Wake up and smell the anesthesia

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My trips to Chicago are usually brief and limited to family visits. My time of reign in the nightlife scene came to an abrupt end just before my move to NY. Classic hotspots were  either closed, sold or renamed, promoters had moved on to throwing parties at up-in-coming strip clubs, and my small circle of friends decided to grow up and take on bigger and better things – like marriage and kids. Besides, being in the center of catfights and flipping over plates of pancakes at White Palace Grill, had become played out. It was time for me to go into permanent “hibernation.” Sidenote: Did you know the flipping over a plate or chair is vandalism?

Last winter, I decided to attend a mixer with my linesisters at a local sports bar. I was familiar with the promoter and prayed that he did not have the same following from years prior. To my surprise, I did not recognize ANYONE. I was relieved and confused. Most of the attendees were within my age bracket – but who are these people, and more importantly, where did they come from! Born and raised in Chicago (Southside). I went to college in Chicago (Northside). And if you know anything about the city of Chicago, you’d know that it is probably the most segregated city in the world. So technically, I should know just about everyone that hang out at my spots or follow a particular social crowd. I felt like a stranger in my own hometown. I had that “new girl smell” and I wanted to take full advantage of it.

I was smiling from ear to ear, holding my wine glass high in the air, serving “come & get me” to every man that looked my way. I met two decent guys that night – Chris and Mike. Chris was K-Mart fresh and funny. I wasn’t necessarily drawn to him but he kept me entertained. We didn’t exchange numbers that night but we wound up becoming Facebook friends. Mike was a different story. He was tall, dark, and fine.  He had a very commanding presence about him.  I wanted to yield to him. We exchanged numbers,  tried long distance dating from Nov – April – flying back and forth from Chicago to NY, but ultimately called it quits. Mike was relatively new to Chicago and started to reap the benefits of being a single, black doctor man in a city full of women dying to be chosen.  I’m not mad though. Chris and I, during the interim, would still randomly exchange small talk on social media outlets… but nothing more.

2012 was a very trying year for me. My trips to Chicago were frequent – I was between jobs and almost made the leap back home. Chris made every effort to date me during my visits but I would completely blow him off. Chris has no kids, like Mike – he’s doctor…an anesthesiologist to be exact and he’s only 31. So what’s the issue? I’m so embarrassed to say this…but it’s his fucking complexion.

My grandmother hailed from Shubuta, MS. She was the darkest of her mother’s children. In fact, she was the only dark skin child. Her little sister was the object of everyone’s attention and was highly favored.  This favoritism, and complex, stayed with my grandmother throughout her entire life. She constantly compared herself to her little sister (my great aunt); even though my grandmother lived a privileged, married life. Her husband, my lighter skin grandfather, gave her everything her heart desired and went above and beyond to care for their 10 kids. Her lighter skin sister did not have the same luxuries in life. It was once said that although my grandfather was short, he won over my grandmother with his complexion. She was concerned with being a kept woman and having lighter skin children. This complex was passed down to my aunts, uncles, and even my own father. My father would mention that he prefers dark skin women and doesn’t have a skin preference. However, every woman he’s dated, or married (including my mother), has been light. Although he may have grown pass the color complex phase, I still believe that he mentioned loving dark skin to appease his dark skin children – my little sister and I. Growing up I had to develop a defense mechanism to ward off bullying and hateful color slurs. Being told that you’re a tar baby or you’re going to have little black roaches as children could really do a number on your self-esteem.  I remember being in high school, shocked that a cute peanut-butter complexion boy wanted to make me his girlfriend. And I won’t even get into the shocking occurrence of seeing an interracial couple in public. The older I get, the less I start care about a complexion. However, I still have a strong preference as I have grown to believe that dark skin is exotic – it’s sexy.  It’s taking me some time to grasp that my concerns about the ideal companion should exceed the complexion of his skin.

As for Chris, he is very persistent. I was reflecting on a recent phone conversation (yes- he’s been upgraded from Facebook) and soon began to realize that my issues with his complexion …is stupid. He’s humble, smart, he makes me laugh, he can cook, no children, and we share similar interest and life goals. He’s from the South. My ignorant ass used to think he was albino but country grandmother confirmed that he’s creole. According to her, he favors a creole family she grew up with in Mississippi. Bless her heart.  He’s not albino and he’s not creole – just a lighter black man.

Do you think colorism still exist? Is there really a difference between being prejudice, “color struck” or having a preference? How has colorism affected you?

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