I only like light-skinned girls, he says.
You only like light-skinned girls? I repeat.
He smiles with all of his teeth, as if flattery had flocked from his tongue and found its way to land on
my ethnic ears.
He echoes, Yes I only like light-skinned girls.
Light-skinned, I laugh.
That’s right, he replies.
What an interesting first thing to say, I thought.
To imply that someone’s most valuable traits don’t penetrate beneath his eyes,
rather stops on the surface of their epidermis.
Never reaching the realism of one’s roots, never touching the tips of one’s truths
never heeding to the harmony of one’s heart, disregarding everything we were taught to not forget:
the detriment of judgment,
of anyone, of each other of our lighter or darker-skinned kin, of our own Mother.
I delved into a flashback of the time my little sister was 5 and she said she wished she had skin the
shade of mine because
it’s beautiful — my heart dropped.
Then thoughts started to ripple as memories rang bells and chimes about the times I would have been
and confined to the inside with my body at the beck of one called master,
meanwhile my ebony-skinned father’s spine would have been plastered with stripes of blood
beneath the blue night of sky, seeing a mirage of stars, being scarred and stripped of dignity,
whipped into shape with no ounce of pity while new ships ashore are bound to gather up another round
I flash back to the now.
No more do we scream aloud I’m black and I’m proud because the colorism of light vs. dark is plowed
deep in the fields of our minds.
The stereotypes, the stems of self-hate, the feelings of second-rate,
the social conditioning that led us to isolate ourselves from ourselves.
And this is why.
This is why we see one’s skin as less or better than the rest.
This is why the hue of one’s flesh
or the texture of one’s hair
or the swell of one’s chest
or the size of one’s derriere
is ever evident, yet evidently lacking any prevalence.
Still, here we are quick to call someone racist while we simultaneously deny the dark of our own faces.
An enlightened discovery indeed,
I suppose the shade of one’s outer shell exposes everything you need to know
or maybe, just maybe, it reveals how you truly feel about yourself.
But I’ve passed your brown paper bag test,
I’m sure your ancestors would be proud.