“Team Light Skin”

Written by on December 11th, 2012 // Filed under Journal

0 by  Kai Davis, Hiwot Adilow and Telia Allmond
of Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement (PYPM)

Watch video here


You’re worth a little more if you’re golden

yellow enough to remind them of precious metals

They’re blinded by the radiance in our pigment

the milligrams of melanin spread thin enough to let light through

the light makes us walk a little softer

we can pass the paper bag test in the dark

can blend easily into any whitewashed backdrop

can dodge handcuffs without paying a fine

the white man’s best friend

the face of every ad marketed to black people

black enough to be a nigga

white enough to be a good one

our complexion makes the most racist politicians comfortable

they don’t mind sitting next to us

or shaking hands in public

but won’t hesitate to remind us where we stand

they never call us equals

yet treat us better than our browner sistas

Call us redbone

cast off anyone with a bit of night in their skin

people have always been afraid of the dark

but quick to bathe in the sun

bow to the white shine of the stars

Even black men want women

brighter than their mothers

lighter than their sisters

Whiter than their daughters

we’ve always been the first choice in a bedroom scrimmage

the honey in our skin makes us worth being tasted

the darkest things about us are the shadows of our hips

we’re never hidden in corners or kissed in secret

Men are proud to have us

Eager to use us as accessories

to decorate a rap star like platinum

we’ve become hip-hop ballads

They say we’re easier on the eyes

like dark is too rough and calloused to be beautiful

Like black is only here to make us shine a little brighter

we’re praised for being exotic

They’re amused by trying to guess

what part of our blood makes us so attractive

“You’re so pretty! What are you mixed with?”

Like it’s never good enough to be just black

nothing great in a bloodline that can’t be traced to ghostly grandfathers

we’re considered worthwhile for the white we might be

the darker your pigment the more seeped you are in stereotype

look like you got an attitude

look like you got no class

look like you’re not worth your weight in coal

As if there is no place for women obscured in deeper tones

they have always been placed below us

society has only given them second glances

they are condemned to the dark

while we wear our skin like a sheet of diamonds

Dressed in the assurance that we’re worth more

the people around us covet us like jewels

their perception of us never fails to let us know

black might be beautiful

but light skin is the right skin

it doesn’t occur to them

that some of the most gorgeous stones are Obsidian



people will tell you to bleach your brown

wash your black

erase your dark

Like our diluted tones are worth lending us privilege

Like there isn’t brilliance emanating from your pores

Like the mahogany of your skin isn’t perfect

our absence of color doesn’t make us magnificent

beauty can never be found in just one spot on the gray-scale

it’s the deepest shades that paint the best portraits

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