SCRIPTURE OF THE DAY
Psalm 139:13-14 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful; know that full well.
Luke 18:27 – ““What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
As an ode to Black History, I would be remissed if I didn’t mention some of the real challenges we face within the black community that is perpetuated by self, family, media, environment, etc. Some of it is subtle while other aspects are overt. It’s real. It’s here. First, let’s look at a general overview of Desirability Politics. What is it?
I recently learned this term from an episode I watched of VICE: MINORITIES DISCUSS COLORISM. Desirability politics are the stories we have written about beauty, intelligence, kindness, etc., that function in our daily lives.
“Narratives about beauty, intelligence, and kindness have mostly been centralized on white people. Psychological experiments like The Doll Test have shown that from a young age, most people of all races are programmed to favor light skin. People of color, people with disabilities, size, economic status, and people with a myriad of other culturally oppressed identities have all been historically underrepresented in the media, which has worked to construct these identities as inferior. These are the politics of desirability.”
~ What are the politics of Desirability, Tristan
This episode of Vice gave some interesting discussion of how desirability politics influence our lived experiences. Here are some quotes to consider as we consider diversity, change, and personal experiences.
Quotes from “Minorities Debate Skin Bleaching and Colorism“
- “Desirability Politics. Who you desire is political…because who you deem as “pretty” goes into all these other characteristics…who you deem as “ugly” has all these other NEGATIVE characteristics. Who you desire goes beyond romantic relationships and shows up im platonic relationships as well…co-workers, all relationships in your life. Colorism goes so much deeper than that. Think about…how do you treat the dark-skinned people in your life? What do you think about them? How many dark skin people are in your life or in your friend group?”
- Why is diversity a “trend”? On set, what’s the crew giving? What are the CEOs to beauty companies giving? Trends are NOT lasting, and restructuring of ideas and resources.
- “..when it comes to skin bleaching, I’m much less interested in personal experiences than WHY is this a multi-billion dollar industry? Why is DOVE something they sell in the U.S. here, but in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean…let’s talk about how this is a capitalist ENTERPRISE invested in people lightening their skin..it’s important to talk about WHO benefits from people lightening their skin…that’s where the conversation needs to begin…on class and capitalism.”
- “…why is it societally that being lighter skinned has very clear material advantages of both beauty, desirability, socio-economic opportunties…This. Is. Real.”
- [from a chocolate brown woman] – the world is internalizing the idea that being lighter-skinned is prettier, and I get why..I’m privy to the societal pressures that would drive one to skin bleach..I understand there are so many pressures…but I also understand that subtly you have internalized anti-blackness.”
- [from a chocolate brown woman] – “…one thing I remember my mother saying to me growing up is ‘you don’t need to marry anyone your shade or darker otherwise, your kids are going to come out too dark…I always thought something was WRONG with me because I heard that a lot growing up.”
- [from an olive-colored Middle Eastern young woman] – “…my mom would tell me to tell people I was Russian because a closer proximity to whiteness would keep me safe…I’m usually more palatable for white men..when other middle-eastern men approach me, they assume I’m white and say, ‘oh, you’re pretty for a middle-eastern woman.”
- [from a mixed-race “passing” woman] – “…for me, it wasn’t as much about skin color in my house growing up as it was hair. When I was younger, my hair was straight, and then puberty hit, and it grew curly. My mom decided to make an executive decision, straightening my hair. As I grew older, I internalized that as…you’re almost there…the one thing that would give you away is your hair.”
- [from a dark-skinned young woman] – “growing up, my siblings are lighter than me, and I was the darkest. Clearly, I could see that there were certain benefits toward my siblings in society, but my biggest takeaway was how femininity was ascribed to lighter skin and masculinity ascribed to darker skin. That said, dark skin could not be beautiful unless they were men. I internalized that but later learned that it has nothing to do with me; instead, it has everything to do with how society conditions people to think about beauty.”
- [from a young 20s black woman who has lightened her skin 2 shades] – “…my mom always tells me I’m beautiful even when I was darker. I just got influenced by the media, honestly.”
- [light-skinned Latino male w/ long red locs] – “..my mom always appreciated and encouraged my natural beauty…but I remember watching the Disney channel growing up and always asking…why can’t my hair be straight and look like that.”
- [light-skinned Latina girl] – “..what’s important for me is accessibility. I grew up in the Bronx, and people are around other people that look like them for most of their lives. It’s so embedded in that way. They stay in the projects forever. I decided to leave and get an education somewhere else. I attended school in a place where few people look like me, and I would go home and have these conversations about how different the world is…I learned that it’s challenging for people to be aware of racism in a homogenous environment. Once they get out and see the differences in the world, in an environment of diversity, their experience becomes different.”
- [from a dark-skinned woman..on beauty] – “…right now there is an influx of mixed raced woman as a representation of blackness. I mean, you have Lupita, who is gorgeous, and media recognizes her as gorgeous…but it’s not fair that we have to wait for representation before dark is accepted as beautiful.”
- “..it’s not honest to deny that your experiences, media, family familiarity, etc. it influences your phenotypical desire. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many people date lighter-skinned/white people. Who you date says a lot about who you advocate for…who you trust…who you believe deserves support…who you show up for.”
This is an ancient problem that we can see is ingrained into family, self, and society. There are solutions that may not be a global effort but can make a dent in how we internalize and respond to this issue. “With God, all things are possible.” The Bible teaches us a method by which to operate and execute an impartial attitude toward the physical and focus more on the spiritual. Accepting that each person is a soul helps us identify with our humanity. Next, our parents must be a conduit for change. For years families of color have subtly experienced colorism at home. Whether in comments, gestures, or approval, it is taught in non-verbal cues and passed on to our children. Intentionally teaching our children that “different is just different and not bad” must be exhibited in how we speak, behave, and interact in our relationships.” Then we must accept ourselves as beautiful without mistake. God has crafted each of us uniquely different in our own distinctiveness. He finds that valuable, and we must learn to do the same.
There are some things that are out of our individual influence. The media must have more representation, so the beauty standards change. We have to remove ourselves from our own echo chambers, get out and see the world in all its unique beauty. Lastly, believe that change IS possible, especially on an individual level. Work to improve your personal experiences and watch how impactful it becomes!