Confessions of a Brown Skinned Girl: The Good, The Bad and Confused

MelaninQueen21

"Light Skinned". "Brown Skinned". "Dark Skinned". "Caramel". "Light Brown". "Medium Brown". "Dark Brown". "Light Caramel", "Tanned". "Light Mocha". "Coffee Brown". "Pencil Brown". "Chocolate"...

Everything that's listed above are what what I've been described as! Here's a few recent pictures of me:

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Growing up as a Black girl, in a racially and culturally diverse city in the Upper Midwest, I was raised in a neighborhood with people from all kinds of backgrounds, sizes, shapes and shades of the rainbow. I had friends from all races and colors of life. Growing up, I didn't care what color or ethnicity you were, all I cared about was that if you were kind to me and we shared common interests, we were gonna be friends!

I grew up with friends of Peruvian, Filipina, Korean, Chinese, Puerto Rican, Angolan, Arab, Mexican and European backgrounds. And they all ranged in skin tone. We didn't care about what skin color the other possessed. It never crossed my mind and it probably never crossed their minds, either. Hopefully.

When I was a preteen, I moved from the Midwestern city to a Deep Southern town. What a cultural and climate change that was, for sure. Trying to fit in was another thing... but my family, my sister and I, were ultimately judged for being different. I didn't understand why, at that age, especially. Throughout my middle school years and my 9th and 10th grade years, it was vicious. It was a struggle. Not only was it hard adjusting to southern life, but it was hard dealing with the bullying that my sister and I had endured.

Although we were bullied by both genders, it was mostly the girls picking on us, for reasons we still don't understand why. The girls who would mostly pick on us were other Black girls. We were not only shy and reserved, but we were Black girls who bestowed themselves, distinguished themselves, a part from the rest. The constant bullying was too much too bear. So we started homeschooling in the 11th grade. But in our freshmen and sophomore year of high school, the bullying from the other girls had gotten worse. We were also compared to others in the school, which included our (my) skin color.

I remember in one of my periods (classes), I was grouped with some other kids to prepare a meal (I was in like a culinary class). One of the Black girls who I was teamed with questioned if my hair color was real (in which I had recently dyed it red). Then she continued to ask me what I was mixed with! ...With a confused look on my face, I said to her, "I'm Black". She continued by saying, "I know you're Black, but what are you, really?" Not only was my hair and ethnicity questioned by others, but others started to categorize my skin color. But pointing that out, I do specifically remembering being mostly bullied by other Black girls, who possessed dark skin. (I want to point out that everyone skin color is beautiful in it's own way and that nobody should be judged on their attraction based on skin color). But I never realized this until I was in college. The girls that would pick on my sister and I had dark skin. My sister and I had guys crushing on us. Not just the Black males, but the Hispanic and White males. I don't know if this has anything to do with it, but my sister was called an Oreo. Both of us has a different style from the most of our peers. Our style was even different from each others. We stood out from the crowds.

I remember one of the janitors had came up to my sister and I at lunchtime. We were sitting by ourselves. He had bought us a Klondike bar and talked with us. He mentioned that we weren't like the other kids in school. We dressed differently, we talked differently, we weren't from the south, we didn't hang out with the crowd that others "like us" hanged out with; we were good and respectful students... and the reason why many didn't like us, which resulted in bullying, was because we were... different! Although he had said other encouraging words to us, that stood out the most to me and that's what I most remember. That's when I began to realize why we were being picked on. It's stupid and ridiculous, but it's understandable as to why someone would pick on someone else, who doesn't fit in with the crowd. They don't know how to approach the situation, or how to approach that person. And people barely knew us, or anything about us. So they talked about us and teased us. That's, sadly, what kids and adults, do.

College was a new beginning for me. Social life was more easier and people were more respectful. In my freshmen year, my co workers friends, who were dark and brown skinned, were talking about skin color. I'm minding my own business, until I hear my name being dragged into the conversation. They pointed to me and said to me that I'm light skinned. Upon hearing this, I turned around and said to them, "I'm not light skinned." They turned to look at each other and started to laugh at the comment I made. I was confused. They proceeded to ask me, "What color do you think you are?" I answered, "Medium Brown". They continued to laugh and proceeded to say that I'm light. This happened on a few other occasions as well.

Another incident, similar to the previous ones, happened also. My co workers and their friends were talking about slavery and mentioning which one of them would be working in the fields and which ones would be in the house. When it came to me, they said, "Oh, she'd be out in the fields". "Well, she's a bit lighter, so she'd be a house slave, since she lighter." I'm thinking to myself, why would they talk about something like this? This incident actually happened twice. A few other friends, friends of the family, has said to me, "Oh, you light like your grandma", or "You pale", or "My father was about (looking around the room) your complexion". A kid back in middle has even said the same thing.

I vividly remembering after the incident that day (college situation), I remembering going home. And as I was in the shower, I became down and confused about my skin color. I was questioning why some people saw me as light skinned, or light brown. All my life, I knew I was Brown skinned. I had no if's, and's or but's about what shade I was. I was content in my own skin. But after more than a few incidents and comparisons, I began to feel befuddled about it. I wondered if how people actually saw me is what I really am than from what I see in the mirror. And when I would correct some about what I am, I would get laughed at for it.

I then began to do online analysis about how people saw me. I got a variety of answers. People from all over the world with different views about how they saw me. Somebody from England had a different view than from someone from India or someone from Norway, Mexico, Nigeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Texas! Not only was it educational and intriguing, but it made me think about how we not only view ourselves, but others around us. I think that where we live has a lot of influence. I've never been followed around in the store, I've never been rejected a job because of my race... but I've had my hair touched by many, without permission, just because it was "interesting". But I've had people made assumptions (conclusions) about me, due to my race.

Yes, I am Black and I would not trade my race for any other. But I've always taken my race and heritage with pride. Although I know that I am a descendant of Black slaves, who were kidnapped from their native lands of West Africa, I am also the descendant of the European immigrants, slave owners and the Indigenous Peoples of America. As a kid, I've always been aware of my Irish and Native roots. Just like I've taken pride in my Afro American side, I loved the Irish and Indigenous blood that is running through my veins. Even though I barely knew where my ancestry came from, I knew that it came from the content of Africa, Europe and North America. When I took a DNA test and did some research, I found out a little more about myself. I found out that I had pretty recent ancestry from Sierra Leone, England, Ireland and California (where my Native ancestry comes into play). My DNA results were pretty interesting too, but I won't dive into that. After finding out a bit more of myself, I began to accept and acknowledge all of me. I claimed and acknowledged the White/European side of me and I claimed my Native ancestry, which I have proof of. Not only have I received backlash for that, but I've been judged. Many have said that I'm denying my blackness by claiming my White heritage. Many have also said that I wanted to be White or that I'm self hating. Although what they were saying was untrue, it hurt. It hurt that many would think that way about someone they don't even know. But I realize that as long as I know who I am and how I feel about myself, that no matter what is said about me, that does not define me! How I see myself, how I treat others and what I do with my life is what will define me.

Although I would like to continue on with this topic, although I feel like I'm getting off topic a bit, the point of my post was to make people aware of not only some of the struggles I've faced growing up, but some of the things that I had endured. Life wasn't easy on my family. We didn't grow up in the projects, we didn't talk with a "slang"; we grew up in a diverse neighborhood, we grew up in a city with the best education one can get (since the city I grew up in is one of the US cities known for it's college), but we still suffered as a minority. As a Black girl, this makes me open my eyes a little more. It makes me see things a little bit more clearly now. Growing up in two different regions, in a time where race still plays a part in everyday life, it makes me wonder if Black girls like me, and other women of color, will see a change in how we are viewed and how we see ourselves. Yes things are changing, but how much of it is changing? In the future, I want my offsprings to see themselves as an individual and not a color. I want them to see themselves in a light or good things to come. I want them to love and respect others for who they're and for not what they're not. Growing up as a double minority in the US is something special and it's something that I would not ever trade.

This has been, "Confessions of a Brown Skinned Girl".

Confessions of a Brown Skinned Girl: The Good, The Bad and Confused
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Most Helpful Guys

  • Shizunk
    If I met you on the street, I would simply assume you are black, no other nuance. Mostly due to distinct facial features and hair, rather than the exact skin shade.
    A note on the bullying and perceived differences. I grew up in a city where almost everyone is of similar slavic white ethnicity. We met exactly one black man during our childhood, my father's friend, and since it was before the internet, we didn't know what to make of it. Only later, when I moved into the capital, was I confronted with other ethnicities, languages and cultures. Yet despite everyone seemingly being the same, there is always something people will pick as a reason to see someone as an outgroup. If not ethnicity, it can be intelligence, religion, personality, views, sports team you are a fan of, promiscuity or lack thereof, clothing, accent, etc. There is a natural tendency in humans to try to identify the tribe they are a part of and then proceed to be secretly or openly hostile to others. While the skin color is a very strong and easy signal to read, I doubt people will be ever judged entirely for who they are, rather than an arbitrary, easy to spot attribute.
    I was lucky to be perceived as weird but ultimately in a positive light. Teachers often identified my classmates based on their proximity to me, because almost everyone knew my name. But only after I few years was I told that there are several rival groups in my class and in the school as a whole. Mostly the women were behind that rivalry, while men were less aware and had to be told to pick a side. I even failed to be a part of any of those groups, which luckily somehow resulted in less hostility, not more. Turns out, everyone respected a strong and independent personality, despite my extreme lack of social skills and many other obvious flaws. But that was an exception, there was even a vote where I was selected as one of two clearly strongest personalities, which is why I was "allowed" to stay an outsider without consequences. Also people in the area tended to be generally smart and decent, but still a rivalry developed.
    I happen to see you only online, but it leads to me judging you based mostly on your writing style and thought process, both of which I instinctively really like. Bu I think even if people notice such things, they don't always tell you without a reason to do so... That may leave you with a stronger impression of the tribal rivalry, rather than how people actually perceive you. You may be surprised if your perception was ever put to the vote, like it was in my case.
    What I would like to know is how, given your thoughts on your ancestry, you view history. There was recently a bit of a discussion about how people in the US generally identify with european history, at least before the conquest of america. And some black people identify with european middle ages and love them, a few see themselves in African heroes and tales. Most black people, I am told by white activists, don't really have a past they could claim as their own. What is your take on this?
    Like 1 Person
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    • Thank you. I appreciate your feedback. I also appreciate your backstop and about how you endured bullying. I'm so sorry ๐Ÿ˜ž but I'm also curious... what Slavic ethnic background do you belong to?

      But to answer your question about history, also regarding my ancestry, I've always been fascinated with history. I love learning about history, all kinds! I'm a history geek ๐Ÿค“. Since I have a passion for history, I started to become interested in my own history. That's part of the reason why I took the DNA test. I'm 86% African, 12% European and 2% Native/Indigenous Mexican.

      Most Black people in America dont know much about their past, including me. When the slaves were kidnapped and sold into slavery, and brought over to the America's, their culture was stripped from them. And for those who practiced it, they would be punished. So majority of us don't know much about our African ancestry, or what West African country we descend from, due to lack of documents about slaves.

    • But regardless of our ancestry and how diverse it may be, we will be seen as Black here in America, due to racial construct l, which was created by a White Southerner a long time ago. You can look that up. You can also look up the "one drop rule". I'll link something down below for you to view:
      en.m.wikipedia.org/.../Quadroon

      Go to this link and go down to racial classifications and read the chart and then give me your thoughts. I know that I have a past. It's just gonna take a journey for me to discover half of that. Yes, it's that difficult for many. But I take pride in all of me. I am not ashamed of either one.

    • Shizunk

      I didn't mean to imply that I personally was bullied. At least not during the time I was describing, actual bullying came much earlier. The point was that people were still mean to each other without any racial excuse. and that I wasn't aware how much people valued my own strange ways, until they were asked to vote anonymously. Nobody ever came by to tell me how great I am. But in a way, they apparently agreed on that. Not as in "we want to be your friends" but rather "we understand there is a particularly keen mind and a strong will in that head of yours and you stand out in a crowd because of it."
      But I do have some strong views on the notion that if you give a child an unusual name, you will contribute to that child being laughed at and bullied because of it. I was given the most ordinary name, same as my grandfather and half the men on one side of the family. People still used it to mock me (only very early, when I was 6-12). If people want to bully you, they will find a way and a reason.

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  • Lliam
    I appreciate this MyTake, MelaninQueen21, for honesty and openness, as well as your attempt to shed light on the issues of discrimination.

    The idea of judging people based on the tone of their skin boggles my mind. It's like you just can't win - too light, too dark. WTF? Why should it matter?

    Racial and ethnic prejudice is crazy. We all one race - the human race. And the diversity of different people and cultures is a treasure. Who would want a garden planted with one kind of flowers of all the same colors?

    I think it's wonderful that you embrace yourself and your heritage.

    I'm continually impressed by how bright, informed and articulate you are at 21 years old. You were obviously raised right. You're beautiful inside and out. I wish I knew you in person. <3
    Like 1 Person
    Is this still revelant?
    • Thank you so much for your honest, yet respectful feedback. This is only part of what I've been through. I plan on writing a Part 2 sometime in the future about online bullying that I've endured as a Black woman ๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ˜Š

    • Lliam

      I look forward to it. โœŒ๏ธ๐Ÿค

Most Helpful Girls

  • lovedejj_xo
    Iโ€™ve had some similar experiences but I didnโ€™t grow up with black people within my community and it was definitely a known town where the KKK was slightly active in the 1990s :) my Mom wanted us to grow up there for the education (which was nice) but I told her I hated the town daily. I could name the 8 of us within our high school of over a thousand. So I dealt with a lot of prejudice views and ignorant people. The only thing that saved me was being motivated to go to school and also being known since I did cheerleading and was pretty active. So they pick and chose their battles with me. The first time I was called the N word was when I was 12 in school and this was when Obama won Like what did I do to you? The teacher did absolutely nothing just continued her lesson. Iโ€™ve dealt with the whole colorism thing and people assuming Iโ€™m mixed which was annoying. The school counselor handed in all my high school transcripts late and actually told me that college wasnโ€™t for me he told all the black students that. Wasnโ€™t until college and moving out that town I was able to embrace my culture and myself.
    Like 3 People
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    • I'm sorry that you had to experience that. Before we switched to homeschool, the public school we attended was pretty prejudice. The teachers loved us, but the administrators and principle were hypocrites and didn't do nada about it.

  • Babygirl_S
    Nice mytake! 🙂 I have had similar experiences. Some girls used to call me "hybrid" in school which is not even a word that should be used to describe a person.
    Like 1 Person
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What Girls & Guys Said

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  • Shortman70
    How does one come to dislike someone for the pigment in their skin, I just don't understand. I grew up in a small community in the upper Midwest. I agree with bogoboj that the bullying has gotten worse since I was a kid. Why has this happened, what can we do do change this? I raised my son's to be respectful, always. You don't have to like them, just be respectful. I'm impressed that you know so much about your ancestry, never lose that, unfortunately some use that to further racism and bigotry. I think you ask "What do you see when you see me?", I see a beautiful women with ambition, who's proud of who she is. Someone determined to make herself better. You also look very interesting, someone I would be happy to meet. But that is who I am, being from small town USA, (pop. 1200) I'm always curious about other people and their stories. I know there are terrible people out there and that is unfortunate but maybe slowly we can change as a society that learns from our past, we can't erase or forget the past, just learn from it. If we don't it surely will repeat itself and we do not want that, ever again.
    Like 3 People
    • I appreciate your reply so much. Thank you ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ

    • Shortman70

      @MelaninQueen21 I hope it helped. Our society needs to change, I just hope we can accomplish that change before we destroy ourselves.

  • Andres77
    First, you have a beautiful soul.
    Then... your attitude/outlook is EXACTLY as it should be. This is the kind of attitude that should be encouraged in society.
    Very impressive.
    You've got fire, you'll make it happen.
    And I bet you make an awesome Mom.
    Like 2 People
    • Thank you for your reply. And I apologize for replying late. I also want to point out that I'm no mother. But hopefully within 7-10 years, I'll become one.

    • Andres77

      I know, you're focusing on your education and life first.
      You just have a good attitude that contributes to being a good mother.

    • Thank you. If I do, hopefully, become a mother in the future, hopefully I'll be all the mother I could be.

  • t-8900
    One day I hope everyone just sees each other has human beings with all the race stuff in the past. I think we're going to get there. Not in my life time or that of our grandchildren but the fact that many racists have to resort to being keyboard warriors to spread their hate now out of fear of what they say/do in public shows we have made a lot of progress. One day this ugly chapter in our history will be over. I can't relate to this article but that conversation you had in your culinary class with your red hair for some reason that hit somewhere in me. While I can't relate to this in terms of race, even though I have been referred to as derogatory terms... it was always by white people, not PoC.

    There are many who still consider Italians "Not White". Frankly idc what they think because if you have to demonize people for their outward appearance it means you are freely willing to reject another person's humanity and therefor a piece of your own humanity is missing. I'm a man, I can tell you that. I'm certainly not perfect and there are people who talk about manhood and who is and is not a man. So when someone brings up that you are or aren't black I felt a certain way about it. Thanks for sharing your story with us!
    Like 3 People
  • Birdlegs
    You must be from Ann Arbor or something I canโ€™t think of any other Midwest places that are super diverse like that at least not in Michigan
    Like 3 People
    • Right on the nose ๐Ÿ‘ƒ๐Ÿฝ๐Ÿ‘๐ŸฝBorn and raised in Southeastern, MI. Proud of it.

    • Birdlegs

      Same here Iโ€™m from the Flint area

    • Coolie ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿฝ

  • jimmy2
    Wow you seem like a beautiful Soul. I see the truth thst the black community should go forward as people. The past is good to know but your future is more than past
    Like 3 People
  • Enhaut
    Honestly I didn't like your my take (as a black woman myself)
    LikeDisagree 2 People
    • Why didn't you like it?

    • Enhaut

      I understand you're speaking to your experiences as a black person but personally I believe that this essay was more of a throwing other black people under the bus to make myself look kinder type of essay rather than actually speaking to the experiences that majority of the black people have here. I think that your experience is very unique compared to what other black people go through and I could really feel some colorism at play when you said that you were being bullied by black girls for being light skin.

      For instance, I'm a darker skin tone as you just to be clear, and I know for a fact that colorism has played a huge part in my life in the oppositie direction compared to yours from what I've seen from your essay. I feel like this essay take a very colorblind approach while aiming to portray darker skin black girls in a negative light. I didn't like this because in my lifetime I've met many mature strong and amazing darker-skinned black people who deserve the world but are constantly instinctively thought of to be as the things that you described black people to be in your essay - and they're not only thought of in this way by light-skinned individuals but also lighter skinned black people as well.

      In general even though your essay is called the confessions of a brown skin girl, me as a darker-skinned brown girl can't relate to any of the things that you were talking about in this essay.

      For me black people were there for me when I was down and it was mostly lighter skinned people and lighter skinned black people of other races who were very discriminatory against me and would call me things like a dog or compare me to a dinosaur (when I was upset).

    • Enhaut

      I'm really just overall disappointed that this essay doesn't really speak any of the things that I've experienced and I feel like it has a lot to do with location in socioeconomic status because you know you lived in the Upper Midwest and Southern areas with what I assume to be a median family income
      in those areas where as I lived in a ghetto at the heart of DC where you can really see the divided all the black people being kind of grouped in to shabby cramped ghettos while all the white people live on Pennsylvania ave with their nice town homes and their dogs that bark at you.

      Overall just really don't like this essay and I felt like it really did bring out that color aspect of trying to appease those with lighter skin tones by throwing darker Shades of Black people under the bus in order to validate their purchases

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  • Bogoboj
    Great and very personal my take!👍

    I find it odd that now in my thirties i have experienced and seen a lot more bullying and ignorance then i ever did as a kid or teen, i think the reason is because both my elementary school and high school was a mixed school with all colors and ethnicity.
    Like 2 People
  • bulletbob555
    Interesting. I go to pow wows and in our area there are many blacks with Indian heritage.
    Like 3 People
    • Yes. My Native ancestry comes from California. My 3rd great grandmother was part of the Shasta tribe. AnceatryDNA has me at 2% Indigenous. I still have relatives in California. My grandfather is also recognized as a Native of the state of California.

    • Cool

  • Highcountry
    You are brave and strong. You can be proud of yourself.
    Like 3 People
  • MrCommodore
    Interesting story, You look attractive.
    Like 2 People
    • Thank you very much. My hair is actually shorter now ๐Ÿ˜Š

  • LinaDaGoddess
    Youโ€™re naturally beautiful. Wow just gorgeous. 🥰
    Like 2 People
  • Shamiah02
    Gurl, i love this mytake
    Like 2 People
  • alance99
    Nice Mytake 😊
    Like 2 People
  • Gabygaby
    Just kill life
    Disagree 1 Person
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