From Both Sides: Is She Black Enough?

By Dena Leichnitz

Rachael Malonson recently won the Miss Black University of Texas. From this a controversy concerning her skin color ensued. Many in the Black community felt she was not Black enough to represent the entirety of the Black community.  They said she was too light. She is mixed with Black and White.  As someone who is also mixed with Black and White, I thought I would look at both sides of the issue.

  1. She is too light to be considered Black. How come they always pick the light skinned girls to be “Black” role models?

I can understand how it feels to be rejected because you are “not pretty enough.”  I am not as light as Rachael, but then I am not as dark as others; I get caught in between. Everyone in the Black community knows that I am “mixed with something.” To be held to someone else’s standards is exhausting. Though it starts with skin color, it doesn’t end there. It carries into what kind of music you listen to, what kind of food you eat, etc.  I have never been completely “Black enough.”

But that is not to say they are completely wrong either. It has only been recently that we started seeing darker skinned women as models who were seen as beautiful. In fact, just a few years ago, there was an announcement that Cleopatra was not so beautiful as previously believed:

Journalists reacted with shock. Cleopatra was no beauty queen, said the reports. The face on the coin was nothing like that of Elizabeth Taylor. Instead she looked “plain”, even “shrewish”, and had a “hook-like hooter”. This was announced as a revelation.

Of course she didn’t look like Elizabeth Taylor because Elizabeth Taylor was a lie! Hollywood stole our Queen Cleopatra and tried to turn her into one of their own. Oh, now she can’t be beautiful because she doesn’t look like some Hollywood adulteress! When I heard that announcement, I was livid, and I am sure my other Black sisters both dark and light were as well. I totally understand their frustration and anger because it must seem like that for every two steps ahead, we go four back.

2. She is plenty Black enough, she has a Black father and she doesn’t have to prove her Blackness to anyone. 

Courtesy of Tumbler

Heck, I totally agree with that and have said it more than one time myself. And I do think we need to get past the whole skin color thing and concentrate on more important matters.  Blacks seem to be failing because we can’t get past the surface matters. One of the qualities that landed Rachael the position of Miss Black University of Texas was that she also had the merits to back it up. However, instead of focusing on – Does she represent Blacks in academics as well? – the sole focus was on her skin color.

I would be much more offended with a dark-skinned Black woman who was getting D’s and F’s than with a light skinned Black woman excelling at her chosen profession. As you can see in the above photo, Black women come in all shades and all shades are beautiful. We should not let the haters dictate how we interact with each other. There needs to be more communication between the Black community so that we can truly begin to see we are all children of the Most High God and as such we are all exquisite.




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