“Black People Say I’m Not Really Black”

Background Info on This Event
As many of you may or may not know, I am a member of an organization called The Black Doll Affair and I also serve as one of the Christmas ambassadors (or as we like to call it “Ambassadolls”) for my hometown- Queens, NY. Long story short, all the chosen  Ambassadolls host their own Christmas parties for young girls who live in that city. This was my second time doing it and I have to admit this year was quite moving for me.

So This Happened…
At the party my doll sisters and I started off with a mini activity for the girls. They all had to write down 4 things they love about themselves inside a cut-out mirror for us to later discuss as a group.

As the girls are working, I’m walking around checking out what they’ve written down and for those who completed their mirrors, I asked them to read it to me. I came across this one particular girl, [will not disclose child’s real name so I’ll refer to her as “Vanessa”], who insisted I take a look at her mirror but asked that I do not read it aloud. I immediately noticed one of the things she listed was “BLACK skin” Admiring her emphasis on Black, I asked her why she capitalized the word? Here was her response:

Vanessa: I like my skin. I know I don’t look like other Black girls but I’m still Black.
Me: Why do you think you don’t look like other Black girls?
Vanessa: Because my skin is light and my eyes **points to eyes**. Everyone says I’m not really Black, but I know I am.
Me: Who’s “everyone”?
Vanessa: Black people

Vanessa reminds me a lot of actress Logan Browning during her younger days, in regards to her complexion, and light eyes.

There were a number of things that bothered me about this. But what really pissed me off was that  due to the ignorance of others, this young girl now feels she has to prove to other Black people that she’s one of us. Here it is, I’m thinking she capitalized “Black” when writing “Black skin” because she was proud. When in reality I believe she wrote it to convince the reader that she was in fact Black!

Vanessa and I  continued speaking and she informed me the “Black people” telling her this were the kids in her class, her friends and older family members. At this point I had to pull up a seat! I couldn’t believe this child had family members telling her this, adults at that!

So How Do I Make This Right?

I discussed with Vanessa that Black people come in all shades and literally pointed out other women and girls in the room who looked very similar to her. I explained to her that she should speak up and let them know everything we discussed today about Black people. Side note: I spoke to Vanessa’s mom about our conversation, she attended the event as well.

It really bothered me that during this day and age where it seems like Black women and girls are really coming together: enforcing movements like #BlackGirlMagic and Black Girls Rock, embracing our curves,  facial features and natural hair that there are still girls who are being ostracized. So now if a girl doesn’t have kinky hair, brown eyes or dark skin she can’t be Black?

Although this particular situation hurt me, I’m glad her and I had this conversation and I’m happy she was able to have fun and be among other Black people who accepted her. Vanessa definitely opened my eyes and had me wondering- at events like this, what other issues in our community are we not addressing?

Check out highlights from this year’s event below!

7 thoughts on ““Black People Say I’m Not Really Black”

  1. Paulette lamey says:

    I was so moved deep down in my soul while watching this video. We all need to see and appreciate our journey. Thank you misscandeemarie. This is awesome and I will share this video. Keep up the good work you are doing. I will be in touch.

  2. Alexa says:

    Awesome…reaches deep to the core, so proud of what your doing & ur accomplishments. Be strong as u are keep up this great work 💜💜

    • Hey Katrina, the Black Doll Affair is headquartered in Atlanta, you can become a member by purchasing a t-shirt (www.blackdollaffair.com) and looking out for upcoming Atlanta events through The Black Doll Affair’s meetup and social media pages

  3. Anita says:

    I had heard of really dark skin people experiencing discrimination in their own community but not really light. Very interesting. I am a white person and I have a black friend who adopted 2 white girls. The oldest is in Kindergarten. This little girl told other kids at school she is black and some kids argued with her. It will be interesting to see how she identifies as she grows up. Some in my friends family are not accepting of the girls but they are so sweet and well behaved I think that will change. I think your organization is great!

    • Hi Anita, thank you for your message. I’ve actually heard of a very similar situation to your friend’s daughter, except it was a Black child who was adopted by a white couple at a young age and self-identified as being White

  4. Debbie VonHendricks says:

    Love your story and would love start a black doll group for young girls. I’m a doll collector and club member of the Ufdc but I know I want to be around a different group of doll collectors. Any pointers would be appreciated .
    Respectfully yours,
    Debbie Von Hendricks

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