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I’m D, and I Have Light Skin Privilege

I recently wrote about 6 different types of privilege. I must confess, one that really hits home for me is light skin privilege. If you need a refresher, stop right now and go read my last post.

Anyway, as a child I wasn’t oblivious to this treatment in comparison to darker toned peers. It was even more clear since I lived with my brown-skinned cousin.

My eyes opened when my cousin (who’s way more like a brother) and I were classmates. In our elementary classes, white and black teachers alike showed preferential treatment to me over my brown-skinned cousin.

My 9-yr-old brain didn’t know that it was light skin privilege at work. I just knew I didn’t always like it.

My cousin and I when we were in about 1st grade or 2nd…it’s a blur lol

I vividly recall teachers unfairly punishing my brother-cousin. And on many occasions, I served as a “witness” to refute his unfair treatment to our parents.

In a weird way, I was aware that people treated me differently because of my skin tone. But the word “privilege” never came to mind.

After to listening to one of my favorite podcasts – shout-out to The Read – I started hearing the word “privilege” in association with my light skin. It just didn’t sit well with me.

Actually, I was really against it. My instinct was to immediately defend myself (just like most light-skinned people).

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“I’m still black”; “I encounter racists too”; “Light-skin people get treated unfairly like dark skin people”. All these things are true. But so is the fact that I’ve always had an upper-hand as well.

On any given day, I walked into the administrative building of my university and received greetings from everyoe – from the President down to the Mail room lady.

This is because my light skin made me seem less “threatening” than some of my darker toned friends.

One of my favorite selfies with t the president of my Alma mater

I always knew these things. But I still cringe at that word privilege. So I’m taking action. (I’m also considering a therapy session or two).

My light skin privilege means I am perceived differently than many other Black people.

For me, that means that certain doors will be open to me that won’t be open to others.

That also means I need to learn how to hold the door of opportunity open for those coming after me (something I also learned in Elementary school).

Grappling with the term light-skin privilege is not easy for me. It’s made me uncomfortable. It’s made me cringe a lot. (I haven’t cried because I’mma real OG.) It made face some hard truths about my place of privilege in society.

Like I said last: we all have privilege. But who are you serving with the privilege that you have?

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