My Journey Into Darkness

By SaltnPepper [Staff Writer]

I’m of mixed nationalities. The blood of the French, African, and Native American Indian run through my veins. I’m what many people in the African American community would call a “light skinned” or “high yellow” Negro.

However, all of that is about to change, for I’ve agreed to take part in an international experimental study of a drug that turns the human skin very dark.

Beginning in the early 1900’s in America, a common practice occurred in the black community in regards to measuring skin color. It was called the “brown paper bag test.” If you’re a black person and you’re lighter than a brown paper bag, then you’re considered light skinned. This custom was used by some light skinned blacks of certain clubs and organizations to discriminate against darker skinned black people in order to maintain a perception of standards.

As African Americans became more educated and affluent, there were perceived standards established that dictated what was beautiful in the black community; and what was an acceptable representation of black people in the media and public life.

African American historians over the years, have been able to conclude through studies that privileges came with being a light skinned black person. Light skinned men and women were hired and promoted over darker skinned blacks. They were more likely to rise to higher economic levels than darker skinned blacks.

Even today, there are those within the black community who believe that lighter skinned blacks are more attractive than darker skinned blacks. There’s currently a documentary that’s making the film festival circuit entitled, “Dark Girls” that explains this practice of Colorism.

So, when I was diagnosed in 2009 with Vitiligo, it caused me to question my own thoughts about Colorism. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Vitiligo is a skin condition in which there is a loss of brown color (pigment) from areas of skin, resulting in irregular white patches that feel like normal skin.”

My hands were the first place I noticed the discoloration. Then I saw it on my arms and legs. Two years later, I had white patches all over my body. My dermatologist called it, “Freckled Vitiligo,” because instead of dark freckles on my body, I had white freckles. I had it everywhere, except my face.

Please come back next week for more of my journey into darkness.

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