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Sunday, May 22, 2016

LOVE, JOY, AND PAIN FOR BROWN GIRLS WHO LOVED PRINCE


A subject I've refused to think about too hard, because it's too painful for the inner child I apparently carry within me.

"...In the weeks since Prince’s death, I’ve been falling in love with him all over again, listening to his music daily, listening closely to the words, allowing my three children to listen – to the non-sexual songs, of course – and watching my only daughter, who is right around the age I was when I met him, fall in “like.” She is intrigued with him. I don’t think it’s as intense for her as it was for me. But, I think more than anything, she is using this opportunity to get to know me – to understand why her mom is so impacted by this man she never met.

I have also had the opportunity to reflect on Prince’s impact on little brown girls like me and like her. I am a media scholar and I specifically focus on 
Prince and Beyonce
media portrayals of African Americans. I have been doing so for more than two decades, but when I met Prince, I was clueless. I had no idea of the subliminal message his choice of women had on me."
Read more about this idol's real and potential impact on young black girls here.  (It's short but dense)
I'd love to read a light-skinned woman's view of Prince and his choices.

I want to know if Prince's choices led to jealousy from those "more awake" than I was as a young dark-skinned teenage girls.


 I think I excused Prince, for years and years, as a "mixed race person" looking for other "mixed race people" when I was girl, though the sting of his never ever being attracted to someone like me - dark skin, plump lips, and wide nose--did hurt me.

But it isn't like Prince was unique in this. (another excuse for him even now)

And, I felt the the sting of Prince's light girl choices again immediately after his death.

A black man wrote an article on how Prince considered himself "black" and not "bi-racial" The author of the piece, unwittingly, blew my teenage excuse for Prince right out of the water.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2016/04/24/prince-loved-his-blackness-and-yours.html



"He LOVED HIS BLACKNESS

--AND YOURS"

the article says. 


I didn't let my mind light on that little factoid for more than a half a second because I loved Prince just as much as the author of the quoted ForHarriet article did.
I didn't want to think about Prince and colorism in the same space of time.

I didn't want to think about how Prince loved "his blackness -- and yours" for so long as you were not a black woman as dark as me.


All shades of black men could be near Prince on and off stage. But women? There was a paperbag test to be passed, and an extra pale paperbag too.

Prince and Misty Copeland
RELATIVELY RECENTLY
The niggling little colorlism worries regarding Prince came to me over and over again through the years, and upon hearing of his death as well. But I pushed  those worries away until I read the ForHarriett article linked above.

 I think the author captured my feelings perfectly -- hurt, disappointment, and set me wondering about the DEEP lack of self esteem I experienced in my past.


I don't know that I EVER actually wished to be paler (once I passed 5 or 6 years of age). But I absolutely wished to be treated like I was beautiful, like light skinned girls were.


In the back of my mind I'll bet I wished for the beautiful, worthwhile treatment from black boys every single day from 12 to 22, when I left college. And Prince had a piece of that. Even if it was only a sliver of a piece, it was a sliver too many for someone who supposedly thought so far outside the box and was supposedly all the way pro-black.

Prince had his problematic side.  I acknowledge that every black star that was raised inside white supremacy has some sort of problematic side. And if you can think of a black someone you think of as race woman perfection or as race man perfection,  then their flaw simply hasn't been exposed yet.


 But I'd like to know the thoughts and feelings of others now.
 
I know light women have to deal with jealousy from dark women because black men choose their paleness for its own sake so often.

 Accusations like "You think you're better than us" are hurled at light women even before boys, when they are still small children. Parents and aunts can prefer light-skinned children as "beautiful" with "good hair" too. (I believe Oprah has told this story more than once)

So
I'd like to know if Prince's choices of Vanity, Appalonia,  Sheila E, then Beyonce and Misty led to light skinned women resenting Prince, for adding fuel to the jealous dark-skinned fire

 OR 

if Prince's choices simply made them more secure and confident, being closer to European standards of beauty. I think that's what I mostly saw at college, joy and feigned ignorance of superior social position among black men based on paleness. I think so? I was a nerd anyway. But I think I lived out aspects of "School Daze." I think I saw Prince style colorism affect non-nerd, dark-skinned black girls.  (Isn't it ironic that Spike Lee married what looks like a "Wanna Be?")


So, I wonder if light-skinned women mostly decided not-to-see Prince repeatedly identify pale as "beautiful" back when they were children. If light women did see Prince's choices of pale girls as negative, did they assume that his choices only had "negative" impact on darker girls-become-women. That is, I wonder if light-skinned women are rethinking Prince just like some of us dark women at are....or at least trying not to rethink Prince because it's too painful to realize he loved all blackness --except dark-skinned women (maybe)

I keep hoping a dark-skinned woman that was secretly married to Prince for 20 years will come out of the wood work and redeem Prince.

Maybe I'll just pretend I never heard or saw anything that indicated that Prince thought of himself as all-the-way-black. I preferred him in the bi-racial zone choosing bi-racial women like himself.