Black sexuality and experiences with love
“Colourism,” “mixed,” “interracial” and “fetishized” are words often thrown around when discussing Black identity, especially when it comes to love.
And while colourism is often perpetuated by external forces, it also stems from deep rooted struggles with internal identity and sense of belonging for Black men and women.
Fauzia Agbonhin, a second-year criminology student, says Black women are often left behind when it comes to love.
“If Black women ever get attention, they’re going to be mixed or light-skinned. Dark-skinned Black girls with 4C hair and not Eurocentric features are not the standard of beauty,” she explains.
These societal perceptions of dark-skinned Black women, views that are deeply rooted in racial stereotypes, are internalized and accepted by many. Agbonhin describes it as self-sabotage, as Black women are overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy.
Divine Nwaokocha, a first-year Ivey Business School student, explains that colourism is an aspect of discrimination predominantly enforced by the Black community itself, specifically by Black men.
“The lighter skinned girls are the ones they [Black men] go for, and everyone else is settled for,” he says.
Nwaokocha says Black men perpetuating these colourist attitudes can be indicative of internalized self-hatred, as they place lighter skin on a higher pedestal.
The effects of these beauty standards go further than people’s chances at love. Agbonhin explains how simple things done to “fit in,” such as wearing a wig every day, can severely impact one’s sense of self-worth.
“The first time I ever showed my natural hair was in Grade 11. I got negative comments about it afterwards too,” she said. “It’s like society telling you that you are not accepted as you really are, and that you have to change yourself.”
According to Agbonhin, these esteem issues can often lead to toxic and abusive relationships, feelings of desperation and a willingness to accept less than one deserves.
“You are in essence, without trying, never good enough. This is the mental demon plaguing every Black woman,” Agbonhin says.
Racial stereotypes also play a huge role in the problems surrounding Black sexuality.
“There are these ideas of a loud and angry, masculine Black woman. People don’t see you as a love interest. You have the right to be angry for many reasons but you have to repress yourself so you don’t come across as that person,” says Agbonhin.