I am in the process of understanding colorism and my own complicity through promotion and profiteering. Colorism is a subsystem of anti-black racism, privileging people with skin tones that are closer to white. The stratification of skin color allows lighter-skinned people to be favored for economic advancement, educational attainment, professional mobility, and attractability, thus lighter skin can be used as a form of social capital. Most notably, the "paper bag" test required Black folk to measure their skin tone against the color of a paper bag to gain access. Skin tones that were lighter than the paper bag where granted special privileges and rights like admissions in to churches, universities, sororities/faternities, night clubs, and bars.Today, lighter-skinned Black folks still experience racism and discrimination, but also, in many ways, benefit from their proximity to white skin. I am writing this blog to confront my own privilege and reflect on my own complicity.
I told myself that I would never post another relationship! Shit, my plan was to either pop up engaged or pop up with a two-year-old. There would be no in between! In fact, I admired one of my homegirls who had never posted her boyfriend or her fiancé. She simply updated her Facebook relationship status to married and changed her profile picture to her and her husband on their wedding day. TALK ABOUT BREAKING THE FUCKING INTERNET! I had completely subscribed to the millennial, social media-aged motto, "When you build in silence, they don't know what to attack."
I suppose this was a moment of clarity for me. I'm thinking about all the other areas in my life where I am standing in my own way because fear. I think about all the half- written blogs that I have not finished for fear that they are not good enough. I think about the doctoral program admissions process that I have been holding off for fear that I will not get accepted. I think about the love interest that I hold at a distance for fear that the relationship won't work out.
I started writing this piece back in June following the suicides of two pillars in the White community—Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. At the time there were a profusion of folks urging others to call suicide lines if they had experienced suicidal ideation. These suicides and call-to-actions made me feels particularly close to my own experiences with anxiety, depression, and suicide crisis lines.
Long are days of ankle cut dresses, but we still move throughout the world mindful not to show too much—too much intelligence, too much confidence, too much pride. We are reared to be maternally modest, from the ways we dress to the ways we communicate, from the ways we give feedback to ways we accept compliments. We, thus, navigate the world to perform Modesty Politics, which are deeply gendered and highly problematic for ourselves and others.
I facilitated a workshop around inclusive leadership, and my students were tasked with developing a “Where I’m From Poem.” The poem was designed to reflect and to celebrate the diverse experiences of our group. During the workshop, I developed a poem that centered my experiences as a Black girl growing up in New Orleans.
I developed AuthenticBlackGirl.com (aka NatashaMLee.com) to document my journey toward authenticity, while navigating sociopolitical systems of racism, sexism, and heterosexism. This blog is my accountability and reminderto engage in self-care, self-love, and self-compassion.It is intended to be a place of mental, physical, and spiritual healing, where I can center both joy and pain, and most importantly it’s a space of learning and unlearning, healing and letting go.
So, I’ve been grappling with the following questions: How do I maintain my own healing, while dating with people who haven’t even begun theirs? How do I reframe from being too invested and giving too much of myself to people who don’t want to help themselves or don’t even know that they need to help themselves in the first place?
It’s February 1st, and I’m turning 25 next week. I keep wondering if I am doing enough. I have a car in my name. I have two degrees. I have a great job. I have wonderful friends. I am beautiful. However, I keep wondering “where I should go from here?”
I never seriously considered dating outside of my race. It wasn’t a topic that came up too often. That is... until my QUEEN Serena Williams found her swirl! Alexis Ohanian literally looks at Serena like Barack Looks at Michelle. And that’s also powerful. I considered all the good men I might pass up by romanticizing and idealizing Black Love. Could a White, Native, Asian, Latino man satisfy me? Could he honor and respect me? Could we laugh? Could I be happy? I became increasingly curious. So, I put myself out there...