***A version of this entry was originally posted three years ago, but an argument I had with a friend who swears she’s not light-skinned prompted me to repost***
Despite our preoccupation with color, skin tone, and shade, our definitions of exactly what makes someone light or dark-skinned remain somewhat arbitrary, and completely confusing.
Donâ€™t believe me?
Ask 20 black people tomorrow to name a light-skinned black celebrity, and your answers will run the gamut from Tracie Ellis Ross to Jay-Z, two people who resemble even-toed ungulates more than they do each other.
As long as our definitions remain so variable, weâ€™ll continue to have 60 year old black men (ie: my dad) who need to be told by their wives and sons that theyâ€™re not the same complexion as Courtney B. Vance.
Today, Iâ€™ve decided to put an end to this confusion with the VSB Spectrum, an all-encompassing and omniscient ledger letting us all know exactly where we all stand, once and for all.
***Pics added for clarity***
***This is where the paper-bag test officially ends. This also represents the end of light-skinned points, and light-skinned guilt (where light-skinned people get so self-conscious about their lack of melanin that they try extra hard to be extra black. I call this the Micheal Eric Dyson Corollary)***
***Although this word isnâ€™t gender-specific in theory, a straight man usually shouldnâ€™t be described as caramel. ***
***The easiest place on the list, brown-skinned bastards can live their entire life without the hyper color-consciousness plaguing the rest of the spectrum. They can date whoever they want without being labeled as colorstruck or an overcompensator, and they are typically free of the color-centric insults (high-yellow b*tch, african booty scracther, etc) thrown towards other ends of the spectrum. If it sounds like iâ€™m hating, good. Mission accomplished.***
***This is the point where itâ€™s officially taboo for a black person to openly profess a preference for a person with lighter skin. Also, there are more black professional athletes with this complexion than any other shade. Iâ€™m sure thereâ€™s a connection there somehow***
***A friend of mine said that while a typical light-skinned chick is better looking than a typical dark-skinned chick, a banging dark skinned chick is better looking than a banging light-skinned chick. Heâ€™s currently in prison, btw. I have no point here. I just felt like sharing***
***Its funny how the word â€œblackâ€ by itself has a negative connotation. For instance, my dad said that as a youngster, prefacing any insult with â€œblackâ€ (ie, â€œyou black bastardâ€ ) was grounds for an ass-whooping. According to my dad, it also snowed 5 inches everyday back then, so I’ve learned to take everything he says with a grain of salt***
So there you have it. People of VSB, get in where you fit in. Where do you fit on the spectrum?
â€”Damon Young (aka “The Champ”)