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Light Skin vs Dark Skin Black Women: The Hayley Paley Syndrome

In Hayley Paley Syndrome on April 2, 2011 at 2:06 am

Hayley Paley Syndrome.  Ignorance is bliss.

I overheard a co-worker of mine explaining to our boss why she had to leave early the other day.  Apparently her daughter, whom I’m assuming is a little dark skin Black girl, was being incessantly ridiculed by one of her classmates because of the complexion of her skin color.  Now, personally, since our boss is a White woman I probably would not have shared the details of the ridicule my child was enduring but, sometimes when we get upset, we forget where we are, and who we are talking to.

“Yeah, this kid, and I think he’s an African-American, keeps telling her that she’s so black she looks like rotten fruit.”

“Really.”

“Really, and the other day he brought her a bar of soap and told her that he saw a commercial where volunteers were using Dove to clean off the animals from the BP oil spill and he thought she could use some”.  I could tell she wanted to cry.  She isn’t dark skin, but she loves her daughter enough to step outside of herself.  I could tell she understood.

“Well, kids are kids and all kids are made fun of at some point.  You know what the kids call my daughter at school? They call her Hayley “Paley” because she’s just like me.  I mean we’re so White we can’t even tan.  So, she’ll get over it I’m sure.  Kids are cruel and everybody gets made fun of every now and then – oh I need to take this call, have a great night and don’t forget to watch American Idol.”

Hayley Paley Syndrome = the subconscious inability to identify the varying degrees of pain warranting a propensity to desensitize the anguish, plight, turmoil, or distress of another by equating a state of lesser distress to a state of greater distress.

Like I’ve said before, I’m not as angry with people of non-African descent who can’t seem to find it in their hearts to step outside of themselves and empathize with the plight of the Black community, especially since so many of my own women, Light Skin Black Women, have exhibited symptoms of the Hayley Paley Syndrome.

Regardless as to how many little boys and girls ridicule Hayley’s fair complexion her universally accepted beauty will be reinforced every second of her life.  All Hayley has to do is turn on the television, pick up a magazine, watch a movie, or watch a rerun of Friends and she will see dozens of women, purported as being the epitome of beauty, with the very same physical characteristics that warranted the ridicule she endured earlier that day.  Thus,  her isolated incident of ridicule will become just that, an isolated incident.  She will be able to psychologically dismiss the ridicule, as beauty, in her juvenile world of magazines and CD’s, will look just like her.

A couple of weeks before this happened, I remember my boss running frantically out of her office pleading that she may  have to quit her job to keep Hayley  from getting pregnant.

“She’s starting to get a lot of attention from all the little boys at her school and I have to make it a point to be home when she gets home. . .I don’t want to catch another one of those twerps in my house”.

Hayley’s ridicule is what I would consider to be normal and quite frankly, healthy. She has a few boys telling her that her extremely fair complexion makes her ugly and she also has a handful of boys telling her that she’s beautiful. And when she goes home, her beauty is once again reaffirmed by the media.

When Tianna goes home after a day of ridicule, does she get to turn on the TV and see someone with her physical characteristics being praised as beautiful?  Who does she see being purported as the epitome of beauty when she flips through a magazine?  When Tianna goes home the contention of those little boys  is reaffirmed; need I remind you of the characters of Proud Family again.  The only dark skin characters were the mean ugly girls; they were  so black they were drawn in shades of blue.  What magazine should Tianna open to reaffirm her beauty — we don’t even put our own women, Dark Skin Black women, in our magazines.  Those spaces are reserved for the most beautiful of Black women, the ones that are half Black or light skin, right?

To Light Skin Black Women effected by the Hayley Paley syndrome:  Your pain although greater than that of Hayley has no similarity to my own. I am no where. When they laughed at me as a child I too would go home and try to reaffirm my beauty, but when I watched our television shows, our videos, and when I read our magazines, who did I find being praised as beautiful,

you — and only you.

I could never hold up a magazine and say well, my Black can’t possibly be that bad ‘cause all the pretty girls in the magazines look like me.  I can’t stand to hear Light Skin Black women saying, “It’s rough all over. You don’t know what’s it’s like to be light skin.”

Well, I sure wish I knew what it was like to be in every movie, every magazine, every video, every song lyric — has the media promoted or expressed a sentiment about Dark Skin Black women that you wish you could experience?

I cried all the way home for that little girl.  I’ve never spoken to her, nor have I seen her,

but I know her.

I know her well.

I so hope one day that the men who have the ability to change the world, chose to change it. And I so wish that Dark Skin Black women would unite as Black people united in the 60’s and demand the right, to our inherent right, to be seen and revered as Beautiful women.  And most importantly, I wish my light skin Black sisters would stop equating their pain to my own.  Don’t forget these songs, sung by our men, were sung for you, you are a woman to them, I am still waiting to be. . .

Lil Wayne, Song Title: Ride With the Mack, “I tell a dark skin chick I`m allergic to chocolate.”

Fabolous, Song Title: Lights Out, “. . .Bottles of Rosae keeps finding it`s way to my section And groups of pretty bitches with them light skin complexion.”

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