“You’re not even that dark. Look at this.” he demonstrated by pulling my sleeve off to expose my shoulder. “This – this is practically white.”
A few things came to my mind in this moment. First of all – how fucked up this was. I understood he was trying to flirt, and this was what I’m sure what he believed to be a clever ploy to touch me. I’m not sure if he was trying to compliment me, because his tone was as if he were saying a compliment but the content of his message wasn’t flattering at all. I’m not trying to be practically white. I’m not trying to be black enough. I exist as I am and his opinion was not asked for, necessary, or welcomed. My genetic makeup and history remains regardless of someone else’s perception of how my skin looks. It isn’t insulting to be black. It isn’t a compliment to look white. I am perfectly aware of my “light” skin privilege. I understand that I am the band aid for casual racism – the more comfortable preference. I am the mocha latte for those who believe tea is the ultimate beverage and can’t stand to drink a pure rich brew of coffee – but still want to seem trendy. I am the token of diversity in any given group so they can point and say “See how open minded we are.”. But I am not a token. I am not an excuse. I am not a security blanket or a fetish. I exist. I exist and that in itself is enough.
I tugged my sleeve back up.