I follow a lot of interesting and eclectic people on Instagram. Many are aspiring artists, musicians, and creative souls I happen to stumble upon. I am always fascinated by those who can stimulate intelligent conversation and allow us to see and think about things differently. I wanted to share a song that I heard from one individual that I follow on Instagram. He goes by the name of Chris Classic. He’s a recording artist, executive producer and senior writer. Mr. Classic is always providing his followers with unique perspectives that spark intriguing dialogue. I was excited to listen to a mixtape that he released entitled Five Business Days. On the mixtape there was a song that particularly caught my attention entitled “Cocoa cola” [clever play on words].
In the song, Classic raps about his adoration and admiration for brown and darker skinned women. Often times when musicians [particularly black men] speak about light skinned or dark skinned women, they give some overgeneralization of either group. It was actually refreshing to hear a black man express veneration for chocolate women. Growing up, I never realized that there was such a deep divide within the black community based on skin color. It never made sense to me because to other races, we are all seen as the same. Having these trivial debates about which skin is better only further divides us and perpetuates the myth that we are separate. India Arie serenaded us with a love song about brown skin but it is rare to hear men, particularly rappers, celebrating darker skinned females. If anything, all we hear about is rappers dissing darker women. When Kendrick Lamar came out with the video for his song “Poetic Justice” I was pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful brown skinned woman as the main focus.
One prime reason that young black females think that “light skin is the right skin” is because of what is displayed in the media. There aren’t a lot of positive brown or dark skinned females that can be seen and if they are seen, it is often done so in a derogatory and stereotypical fashion. One of the beautiful things about black people is that we come in so many different flavors; it doesn’t make sense to only celebrate one shade.
In the song “Cocoa Cola” Classic pays homage to brown skinned beauties such as Tika Sumpter, Bria Myles and Alek Wek. In one line he says “usually you wouldn’t see her on the runway,” in reference to the fact that there are so few black women [and far fewer brown/dark skinned women] in the fashion industry. What I enjoyed most about the song is that I could hear it being played at a party or a club…it’s upbeat and fast-tempo yet there are some deep lyrics thrown in. At some point in the song Classic raps “I’m not saying there’s a problem with light skin, the problem is when people think that that’s the right skin.” *pause for applause*
Our society’s obsession with lighter skin and more western features has caused women to go to extreme lengths for the sake of beauty. When trying to quell colorism, typically the focus is on the fact that it takes place, is an extreme problem, and continues to divide us. Instead of focusing on the negative, I think the first steps should include showcasing women of all shades and celebrating the beauty of EVERY shade. A song like “Cocoa Cola” tackles the issue of colorism while making you want to dance. It’s not a preachy sermon but rather a song of reverence.
If there are more positive displays of darker skinned black women the issue of colorism will eventually disintegrate. It’s so ironic; growing up I actually bought some Jergen’s cream to give myself a
tan “natural glow” because I thought I would look prettier with brown skin. I couldn’t fathom girls risking their health and their lives to try to achieve lighter skin…here I was trying to get rid of mine. I guess maybe we all want what we can’t have. The first part of emancipating ourselves and repairing our culture is accepting how we were created. There is beauty in everything and everyone; you just have to recognize it. We have to display black beauty of all shades so that young girls can grow up seeing others that look like them, instead of thinking they have to change themselves to look like the unrealistic images they see.
I applaud Mr.Classic for highlighting the beauty that is brown skin. Check out the mixtape here.