Growing Up As A Dark-Skinned Black Girl in America Part 1


Young Rochelle in Seattle Washington

Growing up in Black America it was instilled in me by society at an early age that I just wasn’t the prettiest. I am dark-skinned. My skin is the color of a nice toasted coco, yet I was made to feel ashamed of it. One of my sister’s shade of brown was much lighter and she was favored by boys and our peers. Even my own friends liked her more than me. As early as kindergarten I became aware of my rank in the hierarchy of black skin tone. It didn’t make me feel the best and I was often jealous of girls who were lighter than I was.

Hierarchy of Black Skin Tone:

At the top of the pyramid you have your light-skinned girls with either straight hair or loose curls. Then you have your Redbone girls, who were light-skinned with a bit more coarse hair. Then you have your lighter toned dark skinned girls with loser curls. Then you had me, a dark-skinned girl whose hair was in tight coils. But it doesn’t stop there because I am not the darkest of dark, but in my community, anyone who was darker than me must be from Africa.

I grew up near the central district in Seattle which used to be historically black. At age 8 my family moved to the suburbs. This was a big change because at least at my old school I had peers that looked like me. In my new school I was often the only black person in my class. If I wasn’t the only black person, I was usually the only black girl.

I didn’t make friends easily but I used my personality to at least get people to talk to me on occasion/ be nice to me. I became the ‘class clown’. This is something that was both a positive and a negative. I was happy that I could make people laugh, but unhappy that I had few friends and the friends I did have we didn’t get too close and they always found a new friend that they would have that instant deep BFF connection with. Needless to say I had a bit of a lonely childhood. My only respite was playing with my brother and sisters at home.

To be continued…

(This is a bit more of a personal post, but I feel as if it relates to my ascension and I’d like to share my truth.) 


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