Why dark-skinned black girls like me aren’t getting married

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Dream McClinton: ‘We are not as valued as our lighter skinned counterparts.’ Illustration: Debra Cartwright

Source: The Guardian

 puts herself on the line to report

Black women in the US marry less than others – and the numbers are even lower for darker skinned black women. Is colorism – favoring lighter skin – to blame?

I take a deep breath and ready my fingers. I admonish myself for being theatrical about something so mundane. Another deep breath.

“Here we go,” I mutter, pressing enter.

My profile has been created. It seems simple enough: swipe left to dismiss, swipe right to express interest.

The first eligible bachelor appears – not my type, I swipe left. Then another follows – too young, I swipe left again. Ten swipes in, and I find myself texting my eldest sister this was a bad idea. A feeling of vexation settles over me.

I didn’t think I would ever have to use a dating app, but men don’t talk to me any other way.

I’ve spent so much time trying to understand what is so unattractive about me that men shun me. At first, I thought it was because I was intimidating – a word I’ve heard used to describe me. For a while, I concluded I was “not that interesting,” a line I subsequently used as my biography on social media. But those explanations won’t do.

The real issue is staring me right in the face: my deep mahogany skin.

Colorism – the prejudice based on skin tone – has stunted the romantic lives of millions of dark-skinned black women, including me. We are not as valued as our lighter-skinned counterparts when seeking romantic partners, our dating pool constricted because of something as arbitrary as shoe size.

Like other systems of racial inequality, American colorism was born out of slavery. As slave masters raped enslaved women, their lighter-skinned illegitimate offspring were given preferential treatment over their darker counterparts, often working in the house as opposed to the fields. This order has since been perpetuated by systemic racism and internalized by black people. It remains alive even now, insidiously snaking into my life.

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