Colourism and ‘preference’: stereotyping (part 2)

Felicity
12 min readMay 14, 2021

Stereotyping (worldwide)

The stereotypes given to dark skin black men was that they are more masculine, they are the alpha male. They are more dominant, and their dark skin displays strength and confidence. For black men, dark skin is more idealised for “maleness” (Uzogara et al, 2014)

This idea for dark skin black men is still standing strong in society today. This is racial conditioning. For the most part, I do not think dark skin black men have many negative attributes attached to them, in terms of desirability politics. However, because of the titled alpha male energy, they are viewed as way more of a threat to people and are deemed dangerous as soon as they are old enough to walk, which is messed up. They are way more susceptible to things such as police brutality and racial profiling. They are not allowed to seem vulnerable or gentle because they are burdened with this stereotype straight away. Their stereotype REEKS of hypermasculinity but we move. In addition, dark skin black boys were also seen to be more troublesome in schools, whereas white boys were angels regardless. I believe this point is a worldwide issue, especially in the UK. Black children especially black boys, are more likely to face exclusion from school.

(Sidenote: I would love to discuss this as a separate topic another time as it is a huge issue in the UK.)

Dark skin black men have been locked in a box, where they are not allowed to do anything someone might deem cringey or corny, especially in the UK. This is a result of the years of stereotyping them because they are meant to be a pillar of toxicity and hypermasculinity in the black community. So, when people see a dark skin black man outside of this box, who is genuinely having fun or messing around he gets clowned for it.

My example is a 19-year-old young black model and undergraduate chemistry student from the UK called Kanaan Pitan. He was a topic on black twitter for a few months as people have been clowning his TikTok videos. What I was confused about was the fact that people were bringing his content from TikTok onto twitter, as if the people over there were meant to understand that TikTok is not taken seriously and anything is allowed. He is a carefree, unproblematic person, so it shocked me to see that people were dragging him (slandering him) unprovoked on Twitter.

Kanaan addressing tweets — source: Kanaan’s YouTube channel

The quoted retweet said, “a darkskin with a lightskin n*gga attitude”, implying that he is being corny and a bit weird. There were comments a lot worse than this one, but I wanted this one as an example.

Older black people in the UK in their late 20s or 30s, are still a little bit old school in terms of how black men should act and what is cool and what is not. Black men have already been stereotyped for as long as anyone can remember and have be pushed into a one size fits all personality type. How do we expect to have decent representation in the media and worldwide, if there are still some people who think they black people are monolithic? Not all black men act like they are on road or like they grew up in the hood because not all of them did.

Even then, not everyone acts in that stereotypical manner that society pushed onto us. Black people can be nerdy, posh, introverted, weird, emo etc and nothing is outlandish about that. HOWEVER, the stereotypes of black people also need to be respected too. We cannot move forward as a community and be respected in the world if we do not even respect everyone who is different within the community. It further reinforces harmful stereotypes and does not allow black people to be carefree.

Back to black men. Their racial stereotypes mostly affect their masculinity (how they see themselves as men/how others see them as men). For lighter skinned black men, the stereotype is that they are gentle, or cringe or corny. This is not really that harmful at all. Unfortunately, this gives some light skin men, who do not represent those stereotypes, the bravery to start acting up.

For example, Aubrey! Mr Drake, hi, hello?! I love Drake’s music, not as much as before but he is very talented. He used to get clowned for singing really “in my feelings” type songs (what the yts would call sappy music) and R’N’B in general (even though that is my favourite Drake with a sprinkle of his raps on top). So, he would get called “soft” all the time.

Other light skin guys would do corny stuff, or will be in their feelings, or more on the feminine side and it would get branded Drake sh*t etc. People were attracted to Drake because of this stigma against him. To be honest, he still makes music like that occasionally just not as much. Over the years he has beefed up quite a bit and grew his beard out. Many became more attracted to him because of this new appearance. One could say he just looked more masculine. People still attached his name to “light skin stuff” (corny stuff) though.

Further on in his career, Pusha T had beef (an altercation) with him and Pusha clowned him. He had a diss track called “The Story of Adidon” and the song cover was an imitation of Drake in blackface.

The Story of Adidon — source: YouTube

I was confused but apparently, Drake explained it and he said it was from 2007 from a project about black actors not being able to get roles and being stereotyped. Either way, Drake did blackface. YIKES! Afterwards, Drake released “Scorpion” and he had a song called “Nonstop”. Here is why I used him as the example right. Drake had a lyric in this song saying: “yeah I’m a light skin, but I’m still a dark n*gga… I’m an unforgiving wild-ass dog n*gga”. I know the second part is two bars after, but I just thought it was interesting. Let us unpack. Yes Aubrey, you are a light skin half black man. So, knowing this information… how are you a dark n*gga? So many shades away from even being CONSDIERED dark skin.

This is what I mean by people have attached behaviours and specific attitudes to dark skin black men. Drake was trying to explain how he is still a tough guy and is still hard even though he is light skin, because that is how darker skinned black men are portrayed. Essentially, he was trying to defend his fragile masculinity by reinforcing a stereotype about dark skin black men, which is wack. But this all comes from the whole “acting light skin” thing. Many light skin black men try their hardest to disprove the stereotype in the most absurd ways.

It is not really that harmful. Although, when it comes to dating and relationships, I cannot speak for them, but I believe women have been conditioned to prefer darker skinned black men over them because of the masculinity stereotype. Darker skinned black men are viewed as more protecting, tough, dominant etc, and lighter skinned men are not. This could also be a variable for why we see so many lighter skinned women and darker skinned men relationships now and back in the day.

I know in those cases the biggest variable is colorism towards darker skinned women and I will get to that. Because as far as I am concerned, I can only speak for heterosexual relationships, even if the woman is not of a lighter complexion, nine times out of ten, the man is always darker than her. I feel like I have been conditioned to this as well because my whole life, I have only seen light skin black women in a relationship with a man who is dark skinned. When I see my family members, whether the woman is light skinned or not, she is always lighter than the man.

source: unleashyourfierce.com

Over time, I just realised I was more drawn to darker skinned men and I would not really go for guys who are light skin. This was out of fear of dealing with colorism with them. Also, because I genuinely thought I was not into them, which is a fat lie. For some reason, when light skinned black people, mono-racial or biracial people were shoved in our faces in 2013–14, I was attracted to a lot of lighter skinned men because I was seeing it everywhere. It was mostly celebrities.

When I grew up, I realised that dark skin men were what I preferred. I started saying that my type is dark skin black boys and nothing else, which is a lie. This was a lie because growing up I liked boys from many different ethnic backgrounds.

Because of how warped the definition of preference is, I just decided to say that I do not have one because people do not know how to use the word appropriately. Ignorant people use it to hide their internalised racism and colorism. Let me tell you, unfortunately I like all boys, all men, from any race if they are attractive, tall and not problematic or ignorant. Since I know how to use the word preference properly unlike most people, I am more attracted to dark skin black men and I am more drawn to them as some are to me. That does not mean I think every other kind of guy is ugly, I love all men unfortunately (#menaretrash. Kidding.)

Before I get into preferences let us delve into my women quickly. Black women. I love black women so much so to talk about this breaks my heart because we go through so much just for existing.

We come in so many different shades all around the world. All of us are beautiful. When discussing colorism, it does not affect lighter skinned black women AT ALL. I do not want to hear it. You see the corny, soft stereotype that lighter skinned men have attached to them? Light skin black women have the soft, feminine stereotype. These women are the least affected from any stereotype to do with race.

Travel back in time to when I was discussing how lighter skinned people had status because they were closer to Eurocentric beauty standards than dark skin black people. In addition to that, as time went on, black men would actively go for lighter skinned women, so that their children would come out lighter. I can imagine this is because their children would receive less hardships than a dark skin child, which is understandable. But it was not just bigger thinking that black men had in mind, it was generally just conditioning and desirability politics. White people were the standard of beauty and black people were ridiculed for how they looked and were not allowed to look certain ways in society, e.g. wearing their afros in public.

Black women especially had to wear head scarfs to cover their hair, or they had to get relaxer to change their hair texture. Naturally, black people in those times will think whiter looks better because they were conditioned to by society at the time and we still are. As a result, black men only go for lighter skinned women because in their minds they are prettier than those of a darker complexion. Colorism is in light skin black women’s favour and always will be.

Dark skin black women and colorism

Now, dark skin black women. For starters, being a woman is hard enough. For those who are not heterosexual, being a woman in the LGBTQ+ is hard enough. But not being light skin on top of that is just brutal because of the world we live in. Since we have been born, we have been constantly told we are not desirable compared to our lighter skinned counterparts. We had little to no representation of dark skin women anywhere.

(sidenote: I love the representation we had in the 90s/Y2K era because our media was not for white people so there was so much range. When Hollywood was not just about white people, black media became seriously white-washed and only lighter skinned people of all races not just black people were used as they are deemed more palatable to white audiences.)

This is majorly due to bias and less opportunities offered or even made for darker skinned black women. When we would see dark skin women in our faces, it was the usually portraying negative stereotypes such as being obnoxiously loud, rude, “ghetto”, aggressive, not ladylike etc. And these were the labels attached to us from very young. It all stems from the idea of lighter skinned black women being treated way more fairly and are preferred because they are closer to Eurocentric standards.

Another thing, the same aggressive, masculine label attached to dark skin black men was attached to us too. People to this day, often strip femininity from dark skin black women and we are all tired. Dark skin black women have the same stereotypes attached to them as dark skin men, in the most harmful way. This causes everyone to force the strong black woman narrative. I personally hate this narrative because no person of any race should have to go through any type of struggle, so why does a black woman have to? This relates to when something bad or traumatic happens to a black woman and little to no sympathy is given to that person in crisis.

On the other hand, if it were a white woman or someone of a lighter complexion, people would be saying their condolences and would be concerned of the person’s wellbeing. Society believes that black women can handle the toughest struggle and will be fine because we have gone through so much BS anyways and we are independent and “strong”. Black women especially dark skin women have never been allowed to show vulnerability for the longest time and no one in the world truly helps dark skin black women other than ourselves because of this. People do not think that black women need to be protected, even though we are the ones on the front line for others all the time. The basic human decency is never returned.

Back to appearance. When dark skin black women have stronger features or features that are not traditionally feminine, automatically compared to a man. This happens often when a dark skin woman would just exist or when a black woman in general would be tall, or have more muscle definition or broader shoulders, things like that. Darker skinned women are just usually the victim of this more than anyone else.

My first example is a woman from Miami Muscle called Rahki Giovanni who is a fitness influencer and master fitness coach. Her body, which is amazing, is not traditionally feminine as she has a very muscular physique with high muscle definition. When she started her weight loss and fitness journey, she got a lot of harmful comments from other people on her social media:

source: From the Snapchat series “Miami Muscle”

Someone said here, “There is nothing soft and feminine about hard huge muscles”. This further pushes the stereotypical vision of how a woman should look.

Rahki then went on to say, “why would I want to look like a man … I wanted to look strong”. I think that woman should be allowed to want to look strong and powerful like “Wonder-woman” as Rahki would say. We are in the 21st century and women have complete autonomy over their bodies, so if you do not like it, keep it to yourself as it has nothing to do with you.

What I really admire about her is that she showed her haters and other women that you can still be feminine and physically strong. “Femininity is power… You can be strong and beautiful”.

My next example is a tweet is saw from @Preciousbeyond:

Precious Thee Angel on twitter then went on to say, “Stop making darkskin black women masculine in your drawings it’s gross”. @esojeon on twitter explained that it is okay for black women to be masculine, but if you see a dark skin woman and deny their femininity it’s a problem. It all ties into the harmful stereotype that dark skin black women cannot be feminine.

This is called featurism and nine times out of ten it only happens to darker skinned women. As well as this, dark skin women (and men but not as much) are compared to animals and dehumanised completely. People have this habit of calling cisgender dark skin black women transgender as an insult. With that one, there is too much to unpack. Transgender black women are beautiful regardless, this is not an attack on them.

However, when people use this comparison, it is still masculinising cisgender women because the stereotypical look of what a trans woman looks like is quite masculine (which is rude, trans people can look how they want and should still be respected as which gender they identify as). So, when people do this, it is still misogynoir and stripping cisgender women of their femininity. We have been compared to apes and roaches for the longest time.

references:

  1. Uzogara, E. E., Lee, H., Abdou, C. M., & Jackson, J. S. (2014). A comparison of skin tone discrimination among African American men: 1995 and 2003. Psychology of men & masculinity, 15(2), 201–212. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0033479

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