“Shades of Black”
“Shades of Black” is an excerpt from Mary Mebane’s first autobiographical volume. In it, Mebane writes about the different types of black and the depictions of them in society. More specifically, how women of color are viewed and treated. Views of black woman have changed since the civil rights movement. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the views of black beauty have changed from one of reverence to one of disgust.
Many different problems and obstacles present themselves to woman of color. Mebane writes about the ways in which black black girls and lighter skin African American girls were treated and viewed. Mebane stated, “by the twentieth century, really black skin on a woman was considered ugly”(Mebane 239). During the early 1900s, black woman were not really desired. At one point, they were though. Around the civil rights movement, black men considered black woman beautiful. As Mebane mentions, there is no definite date for the shift from beautiful to ugly, but it is undeniable that a shift did occur.
This shift from desired to no desire could be referred to as the black consciousness movement. Between the 1960s and the 1970s, darker skin woman were not looked at much. Instead, black men chased after lighter skin woman and woman of a different decent. Woman of a darker shade faced a new problem. They were already part of the minority, now they were placed even lower. Because of their color, darker women had difficulty finding partners as well as jobs. In order to be recognized, darker women had to either befriend a light skin “beauty”, or turn to sex. According to Mebane and others, sexual acts were the only advantage a black woman had in getting ahead. Because they were no longer considered beautiful, black women were only good for sex.
In regards to having a career, or even a job, black women actually had to have skill. Since they were not very appealing to the eye,...