Raising a dark-skinned black daughter in today’s world is no walk in the park. Society is colorist and sexist and racist among many other things. But, thankfully, there are things we can do to alleviate the negative parts of living life as a dark-skinned black woman or girl. These six tips below will teach you how to raise a confident, well-adjusted dark-skinned black girl who values herself fully.
1. Choose The Right Person To Have Kids With
This is the most important step in setting up your dark-skinned daughter for a fulfilling life that she will love. If you want your baby’s father to be wholesome, respectful, kind and supportive, he has to be all those things before you marry him and have kids with him. Kids won’t change someone’s personality, nor will they fix any deep-rooted issues that someone may have.
While there are exceptions, for the most part, all men will show signs of abandonment issues and other problems, prior to marriage or coupling. Therefore, black women have got to be absolutely diligent about who you bring a child into this world with, because that child is relying on you and your partner to help her build a beautiful life worth living. An abusive, absent or colorist father is not the type of man you should entertain, because such a man is unlikely to end up being a father that will teach your little girl to love and value herself wholeheartedly.
2. Surround Her With…Herself
Think of all the roles models that young white girls have to look up to in the media and compare that abundance to the number of role models that black girls have in the media. While there are hundreds of women in the media who embody white womanhood, there are few black women (and even fewer dark-skinned women) with whom black girls can identify. In a world where women who are beautiful and feminine are placed on a pedestal over those who are masculine or “aggressive”, it’s ironic that black women are forced to settle for counterproductive, stereotypical and often obnoxious media promotion. Even though there are plenty of drop-dead gorgeous black women, we rarely see them front and center on billboards, in commercials, or in magazines.
If you’ve got or are about to have a dark-skinned black daughter, you’ve got to be obsessed with surrounding her with positive images of herself. If you feel you have to cut off all her access to Disney and other white media outlets that often send harmful messages to black girls, do it. If you need to surround your house with images of beautiful black women and gift her with black dolls every birthday and Christmas, so be it. Surrounding her with images of other beautiful dark-skinned black girls and women will inspire her to be the best version of herself that she can be.
3. Practice What You Preach
If you want to raise a dark-skinned black girl to love herself fully, you need to be her first example of what that looks like. If you want her to love herself, you need to show her that you love yourself, since you are a direct reflection of her. Encouraging her to wear and love her hair in its natural state will be futile if your hair is covered by straight-textured wigs and weaves all year round. If you want her to value exercise and healthy eating, then you need to prioritize those things in your life as well. Children are smart. If you say one thing but do otherwise, they’ll likely mimic your actions and not your words.
4. Gush Over Her (I Promise You Won’t Spoil Her)
Thanks to the fact that society undervalues darker skin tones on women, your dark-skinned black girl likely won’t grow up feeling that great about her complexion—unless you make it source of pride for her early on. Think back to sixth grade when you learned that for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. There’s currently a huge force weighing down on your young black girl that telling her she’s not good enough. It’s called society. From the way her peers treat her, to the lack of dark-skinned female representation in commercials, films and magazines, she’s quickly learning that her hair, her features, her body shape are all sub-standard.
Your job as a parent, however, is to pushback and counter some of that negativity with equal strength. It’s hard, and perhaps impossible, to raise dark-skinned girls that are completely immune to society’s harsh messages. But, we can certainly try to help them into a place where they’re able to better withstand white supremacy, racism, colorism, misogyny and all the other systematic forces of oppression that black women face. Teach your dark-skinned black girl that you don’t love her in spite of her hair, her features and her skin tone, but because of it. And let her know that anyone who doesn’t value these features is someone undeserving of her time.
5. Withdraw ALL Support From Colorist People, Organizations and Industries
This one can be done before you even bring a dark-skinned daughter into this world. We need to create a world where speaking negatively about dark skin, denying colorism or holding back opportunities for darker-skinned women, is a sure way to lose all your financial and societal support.
Rappers like Kodak Black and Future who either disrespect black women verbally or through multiple infidelities, should not receive our support. Filmmakers like Tyler Perry who routinely make a mockery of black womanhood (think Madea) should not be first on our list of people to support. Black men, white men, white women—nobody should feel entitled to our support and time. From now on, we act in favor of OUR best interests. First.
6. Go Hard For Dark-Skinned Black Women Globally
Not only do we need to speak up more often about colorism, but we also need to put our money where our mouth is. Entertainers and influencers who look like us and represent us in a positive light (think Normani, Lupita N’yongo, Ryan Destiny, etc.) need to be highly supported and prioritized. Even in your day-to-day life, it’s important to make an effort to value and support other black women.
Whether it’s smiling and complimenting other black women you meet at the grocery store, or supporting black woman-owned businesses and non-profit organizations with a vigilance, it’s the little things that make all the difference. If black women are collectively more careful about whom we support and begin to boycott colorist people, groups and organizations, as well as to support dark-skinned black women in the media and in daily life, we’ll be creating a much safer and positive world for young dark-skinned black girls.
Grace is a freelance writer and blogger from Canada. Her work has been featured on HerCampus, 21Ninety, Read Unwritten. She is a voracious reader, a dog-lover and a self-professed pop culture junkie. Her other hobbies include watching sappy romantic comedies, consuming too many strawberry-filled doughnuts and people-watching. Grace currently attends university, where she is working towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Pre-Law.