This past weekend, CNN’s Soledad O’ Brien took a deeper approach with the In America series by exploring the complex ideologies behind colorism within the African-American community for “Black in America 5”. Among the many individuals she spoke to – posing the question ‘who is black America?’ – commentary about the difficulties that blacks still face, no matter how light or dark their skin is, seemed to surface in several conversations.
Slam poets Hiwot Adilow, Telia Allmond, and Kai Davis explored the theme of color and identity through artistic expression for CNN. The young women from the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement performed “Team Lightskinned”, a poem that explores both the negative and positive experiences that light-skinned black women face growing up in America.
The poem opens with the lines, “Your worth a little more if your golden, yellow enough to remind them of precious metals.”
Imbued with deep reflections and colorful language, the poem recalls the historic struggle of colorism within the black race– for light skin women can “past the paper bag test in the dark…can dodge handcuffs without paying a fine”, unlike their darker brothers and sisters.
It also expresses their desire for darker beauties to accept themselves, despite how society may currently demean them: “black might be beautiful but right skin might be the light skin.”
Speaking of society, the poets negate popular belief: “it doesn’t occur to them that them that some of the most gorgeous stones are obsidian, opal, onyx.”
What are your thoughts on the poem? Can you relate?