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Brown-skinned women and red lipstick

Rapper A$AP Rocky was recently interviewed for The Coveteur website in which he stated, "...for me, I feel like with the red lipstick thing…You have to be fair skinned to get away with that..."

First Lady Michelle Obama
Essence Magazine _ January 2009
Actress Tika Sumpter
Vivien Killilea . Getty Images

Well, my question is, who is trying to get away with anything? I could hardly believe what I was reading. A$AP Rocky expressed that brown or dark-skinned women should not wear red lipstick because it does nothing for them. That privilege could only be afforded to fair-skinned African American women. Lord, just when I thought I was out of the light-skinned dark-skinned debate, they pull me back in. I had hoped against hope that this kind of self-hatred was no more. But I guess that is just another hope deferred that has dried up like a raisin in the sun.

In honor of my brown-skinned sister Andrea and every mocha-hued woman in my family and the world, let me disabuse this young man of his color-warped standard of beauty. From paper bag brown to licorice black, dark-skinned women look beautiful in every shade of lipstick they choose to wear.

It has always saddened me, that my younger sister has not always seen the beauty that I have always seen in her brown skin. Yes, she is pretty, but she is pretty to be dark-skinned. That is the tragic mentality of many of our people today. The African American community must repent for perpetuating the slave mentality of preferring light-skinned people over dark-skinned people. Being brown or dark-skinned and attractive should not be treated like an anomaly, but it is - not by white people, but by African Americans. We as a people have done more damage to our collective self-esteem than Jim Crow and the Klan combined. We see light skin and straight hair and think beauty. But not everyone is drinking the slave master’s kool-aid.

According to Author Helena Andrews, "From militant to angry to just plain ugly, every slur used historically to vilify and devalue black women has been hurled at the first lady, who currently has a 73 percent public approval rating..." How perplexing then it must be for the unenlightened when our president boasts about his wife’s beauty. The First Lady of the United States has brown skin and she rocks red lipstick. She is beautiful, educated and represents her man well. A brown-skinned woman wearing red lipstick in the White House? Now that is a threat to national insecurity. It is true that my daughters are gorgeous. That's because my wife is gorgeous. President Barack Obama

Now back to this rapper person. I would have mustered up a modicum of respect for A$AP Rocky if he were just expressing a preference. I too have a preference. I prefer my gravy brown, my coffee black and my man as dark and as sweet as Godiva chocolate. There is no harm in A$AP Rocky preferring fair-skinned women. The harm is when he devalues women because they are brown or dark-skinned - especially when he is dark-skinned himself. It’s called self-hatred. How tragic it is in the year of our Lord 2013 that there are still Black folk that don't like the color Black.

This generation of African American children have enough negative images with which to contend with in this world. They do not deserve to be shot down before they ever get a chance to rise up. The self-loathing remnants of slavery are still enslaving us. But I still have hope that someday we’ll all be free. I ain’t finish, but I am going to end here. This is just too much for me. Besides, I am on my way to the mall with my white friend to buy my brown niece some red lipstick.

Monica C. Holland
Author, Teacher, Talk Show Host
Woman of Destiny Magazine Online
Charlotte Christianity Examiner
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