Sick and Tired of the Battle of Complexions

In a blog entry at the Crunk Feminist Collective, Robin Boylorn tackles the perennial battle of complexions among African Americans in light of a recent Black History Month "celebration" in St. Louis, Mo.

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Mack TV

In an entry at Crunk Feminist Collective, blogger Robin Boylorn decries the recent battle of complexions as displayed in a Black History Month "celebration" in St. Louis, Mo. She says intra-racism is not a celebration.

I am sick and tired of the cultural story line that insists only one version (complexion) of black women can be “in style” (beautiful, popular, desirable) at any given time. There seems to be a not-so-invisible scale that insinuates that black beauty is either light or dark, always one or the other, never both/and. Binary thinking is always problematic and especially in this instance because these evaluations are inextricably linked to issues of self-esteem and self-worth. In a society that has been obsessed with black women’s single/sex/personal lives, this feels like another opportunity to pinpoint the pitfalls of being a black woman and tell her why she is not wanted (could it be you are the wrong complexion too?). Since black women are routinely subjected to desirability tests that are based on their measure of exoticism it should be no surprise that those comparison scales are becoming more intentional and literal (see below).

Being judged and rated in society is an unfortunate plight that black girls learn how to negotiate with the help, love, and reassurance from other girls and women, of various shades, throughout our lives. These women are our red-boned mothers, our high-yellow aunties, our mahogany brown best friends and other brown blood and soul sisters whose beauty we immediately recognize. We learn, from our relationships with these black women, that there is no such thing as one kinda (black) beauty. We learn how to appreciate our differences and likenesses and we realize that the discriminations and prejudices that we face are similar [and] rooted in racism. But then the outside (influences) makes its way on the inside (mind).

In what was claimed to be “a black history month event,” by club promoters Mack TV and Nelly Da’Celeb of St. Louis, black women were invited to participate in a contest where they would be ranked and evaluated based on their skin color. The “Battle of the Complexions” was a “runway contest for [the] sexiest complexion.” A facebook page for the event announced, ‘This is the most debatable topic of the year, what’s the sexiest skin complexion?? So ladies come out & lets settle this!!”

Read Robin Boylorn's entire column at the Crunk Feminist Collective.

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