The reggae artist Spice (Grace Hamilton) shocked the world yesterday, by revealing a “new look”. For those familiar with the artist music (which I love), or her appearance on “Love and Hip Hop”, she was not the same Spice we were accustomed to seeing. Her chocolate complexion is now of a very much lighter hue. The buzz was and still is prevalent on all social media platforms leading up to her new single/video “Black Hypocrisy”, (Check out video below) where she speaks of her experience of colorism among her own (black people).
Unfortunately, this is still going on within the black community especially in African/Caribbean countries. Growing up, my skin tone was not celebrated. I was made to believe to stay away from certain colors, or I couldn’t wear certain type of makeup, because I was too dark. My maternal grandmother was of dark complexion with bright blue eyes. I remember saying in front of an aunt “Look, grandma and I are the same color”, she replied “My mother could never be as black as you”. Even as a child that stung a bit and I was confused, because my grandmother was not light. At times I may get asked “Why are you so black, are you bathing properly?”. When bathing, I use to scrub my skin so hard, thinking that maybe it is “dirt”, that was making me appear darker. A close family member even introduced me to bleaching cream, which after a few uses I tossed in the trash because I didn’t like it.
Fast forward to the dating years. Back then my goal was to be involved with someone lighter. I figured if I was with someone darker that my kids would be blue black. Growing up, my grandmother would say “sometimes you need a little cream in your coffee”, but that is based on the era she grew up in. I remember this one guy that I found to be semi cute said to me, “You mad pretty, BLACK, but pretty”. In my head, I wondered why the hell does he have to put the emphasis on black? My first puppy love was way lighter than me, but a part of me felt insecure, or felt he looked better than me because he was lighter. As years progressed, I met my now husband who is my definition of sexy chocolate. I remember when we first got together, he expressed that he wasn’t sure if I would like him, because of his complexion. He too, had experienced colorism especially growing up in Trinidad. When I was pregnant with our first child, people swore she was going to be a chocolate baby, but she’s more caramel. My second born has a deep smooth chocolate skin tone. When her complexion began to be more prevalent, I wondered if she would be received as well as my first born although she was darker. I thought of this especially by the family member who introduced me to the bleaching cream when I was younger. Would she think of my baby as too black? Would she love her, as much as my first born? That childhood trauma kicked in for a milli second.
Although I have experienced my skin tone being an issue among Caucasians, most of the hurt has been from my own black people. I totally understand the extent of Spice’s shock value to bring awareness to this on-going topic. At times it feels like beating a dead horse as they say. Apart of me is happy that chocolate beauties are being shown and celebrated more. Both of my daughter’s can see images and appreciate their melanin, but as a community, we still have a long way to go, especially those in African/ Caribbean countries. As a makeup artist (www.marienikole.com/book) I have chocolate beauties who are hesitant about blush, eyeshadow’s because they feel that they are too dark. I have grown to love my beautiful melanin and pray that as time progress that this issue will no longer hinder us as a people.
Until next time, sending Love and Light your way!