Newly Minted

Newly Minted
Right after I was hooded

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Light-skinned Relativity

I am sure this will sound very strange. The other day I was at a dinner celebrating the 52nd anniversary of Ghana's Independence. Rarely am I in a room where the attendees are predominately dark skinned. My life experience has been that I am the only black person in the room most of the time. I was really enjoying the moment, the music, the colors, and the food. All of a sudden a wave of panic overtook me. I grabbed my husband's arm (the Irish guy) and pulled him close to whisper in his ear. "I am not as dark as I thought I was, look how yellow I am". Of course, my husband just laughed, because let's face it - what a weird ass comment. Still... I just couldn't get over how light my skin looked in that space. I have never thought of myself as light skinned, especially next to my family and my children. I have always thought of myself as dark skinned actually. Ever since that dinner, I am a little startled and totally obsessed with what I look like. I am desperately wondering what other people see. I have a student who describes everyone by a food related skin color. She has told me many times that I am caramel. You know what, I think I am! I don't know what to make of this realization. I don't think it is an "othering" experience - where I am simply realizing I don't fit in. I think it is a complete shift in how I imagine myself. I shared this story at Easter and my cousin who is a parole officer in Albany said: yeah, I would have always said you were medium to light skinned. It cracked me up! Why didn't anyone tell me. For me, light skinned is my blond haired blue eyed daughter, NOT ME!!! Anyway, this is not the best articulation of this experience, perhaps I can make more sense of it later. I just wanted to share...

More later...

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