BROWN SKIN GIRL | BLACK HISTORY MONTH | SERIES #3

Article by Foyinsolami Asiyanbi

Brown skin girl
The best thing in the world
Never trade you for anybody else.

A hit song that is unapologetically about being a black woman brought to the forefront, the internal conflict going on between black women. Now, black women can be divided into two camps- the dark skinned woman and the light skinned woman. The argument was “who is Brown Skin Girl about?”. Dark skinned ladies argue that it’s for them as Beyonce specifically referenced Naomi Campbell, Kelly Rowland and Lupita Nyongo who all have in common their dark pigmentation/ can all be classified as dark skin ladies. On the other hand the light skinned ladies argue that its for all black women in general, whether dark or light skinned as they all face the same bias against women of the black race.

Why did one of the foremost black female musician think it was important to sing about being unapologetically black? More significant is having her daughter featured on the track who from a very young age has been the target of hate speech online due to her pigmentation. Dark-skinned black women seem to have the gotten the worse end of the spectrum in terms of gender and race. There is a prejudice against them from white men, men, white women, women and lastly light skinned women. What Browned Skin Girl does is to praise those features that are perceived to make dark skinned women a lesser human being.

Skin just like pearls

Your skin glows like diamonds

Melanin too dark to throw her shade

Colorism is a form of discrimination among the same race based on their skin color- this is the privilege light-skinned women have over their dark-skinned counterparts. This is all rooted in racism, in that it is the same way white people believe that they are higher human beings due to their skin tone. During slavery, lighter-skinned black people often worked in the house, while the darker-skinned black people were relegated to work in the field. Let’s not be confused; colorism exists in all cultures. For instance in South Korea, the ladies love having “milky” skin. They use foundation shades lighter than themselves and use all sorts of skincare.

Light-skinned women are usually perceived as being attractive due to their complexion thereby giving them more opportunities. According to Catherine Hakim “in an economy whereby social skills gives you a more charismatic style of leadership, attractiveness gives you a genuine edge”. You may be wondering, how does being light-skinned equal having social skills? Well, social skills are skills needed to get needs met in an appropriate manner. An attractive person is more likely to get attention from people even without asking. This automatically gives them an edge over dark-skinned ladies who now have to work extra-hard.

The media also plays a big hand in colorism. Almost every woman seen on T.V and covers of magazine are light-skinned. All this has led to bleaching/toning which involves dark-skinned ladies using various creams to achieve a lighter complexion. According to the World Health Organization, 77 percent of women in Nigeria use skin-lightening agents. The end-game to this is that they achieve that light complexion alongside body odor, various internal and external diseases.

I love everything about you, from your nappy curls/

I think tonight she might braid her braids.

Embracing black beauty will be incomplete without discussing hair. This has formed another bone of contention between black ladies. Beyonce mentions nappy curls in her song which refers to naturally coarse and tightly coiled hair. This is referring to black hair in its natural form, not the curly kinds that one can only wish for which we see on African-Americans or Half- Castes with White parents. 

Nappy curls is the natural state of a “black” woman’s hair. Cue the introduction of relaxers and straighteners to make black women’s hair straight and like that of the colonialists. As it is when we try to force something which is not natural or compatible with our bodies or environment, this leads to breakage and even burning of scalp. To combat this slave mentality, women are returning to their natural state of hair. This is a movement termed the natural hair movement.

As it usually is, some black people say that maintaining their natural hair is time-consuming and expensive and to this complaint there is an answer-BRAIDS. This is a way of protecting your hair and saving yourself from having to comb through (that’s if you are able to-cue 4c texture) every day in the morning. 

She minds her business and wines her waist
Gold like 24 Okay

Back to who Brown Skin Girl is for, like a twitter user tweeted, and i quote “really wanna say that y’all REALLY could have let dark skinned girls/women have that Brown Skin Girl song, even if y’all thought it was about every black girl”. In America, a light-skinned lady is highly likely to feel like a “Brow skin girl” considering her surroundings while in Nigeria only dark-skinned ladies can relate. 

But all in all there’s nothing wrong in finding solace in a message that is not meant for you. You don’t need anybody’s permission or approval to love yourself- every inch of you, from yesterday, to today and forever is beautiful and you have to see it for yourself.

Contributor: Foyinsolami Asiyanbi is a Law Graduate and a student at the Nigerian Law School.

7 thoughts on “BROWN SKIN GIRL | BLACK HISTORY MONTH | SERIES #3

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