Okay. So, as as a queer woman who loves Hartbeat and find her videos great and hilarious and amazing, I just need to say this. But that latest vlog regarding her “success” being attributed to her light skin is frustrating. Like, VERY frustrating. And I’m tagging this in the hopes that she’ll read this and maybe think about the topic a bit.
Here’s the thing, there are many Black youtubers, and many who get a lot of attention. But let’s be honest; when talking about women (which is important to note because the same colorism and shadeism rules don’t often apply to men), many ARE light skinned. And the one dark skinned woman she used in her examples of Black people who are popular youtubers are often called out on their usage of upholding racial stereotypes of Black people in order to create comedy for their mostly white audience.
For female youtubers, dark skinned women get little to no recognition, and definitely not the same amount as lighter skinned and white/white skinned youtubers. Again, I don’t include men because men can be dark skinned and funny and it’s forgiven. Dark skinned Black women, like Glozell and another noted dark skinned youtuber, Shannon Malcolm, have to rely on being racist caricatures in order to have a decent following. And it’s only through doing this that they’ll get popular attention because these stereotypes are more comfortable to a white audience than more diverse representation of Black people. If this wasn’t true, then when Franchesca from Chescaleigh called Shannon Malcolm out on her problematic portrayal of Harriet Tubman in Russel Simmon’s “comedy” video, she wouldn’t have gotten the hate and excuses she did from Shannon’s followers (who were mostly white). INCLUDING another popular (and racist) youtuber, Shane Dawnson.
And many of us darker skinned women notice this in the beauty community of youtube as well. The most popular youtubers are light skinned or white/white-skinned. The Black ones that have a VERY large following? Beautycrush, Andreaschoice, ShamelessMaya, ItsMyRayeRaye, etc? Mixed Black women with very light skin. And while I don’t wish to downplay their success, part of it is due to the fact that they’re skin tone isn’t so dark and their hair not THAT different from white people that white viewers THINK they can still get lots of tips from them. As apposed to darker skinned Black youtubers who white viewers think they can’t take any tips from them. Light skinned beauty vlogers are allowed to be a universal beauty while darker skinned Black vloggers are a niche that only one “small” group of viewers can enjoy.
The only exception I can think of is britpopprincess, who probably gets a pass because, well, she’s British. Considering how most Americans view English (not all the same, but you know what I mean) accents as “posh” and “sophisticated,” Patricia’s accent saves her from looking like a “ghetto, ratchet, Black American girl” and instead looks like a “classy” Black woman. A lot of Black women from England have noted that they are treated better in America than in the UK simply because their accents make people think they’re wealthy and sophisticated. I once saw interviews of a Black woman who couldn’t get non-stereotypical roles in England and moved to America where she’s always cast in roles playing intelligent and posh women.
I think that instead of getting defensive, you should have maybe done some research. With your platform, you could have really brought attention to the issue of colorism, not just on youtube, but in the media at large. There are lots of studies and documentaries (Dark Girls is a great place to START) that showcase the Western world’s preference for lighter skinned girls. And to see a rather prominent Black youtuber deny that, it’s frustrating.
Here’s the thing; you can’t help being privileged. And being privileged doesn’t erase your personal struggles, nor minimize your successes and all you had to overcome. No one is saying that. What that man was trying to say (though in a less academic way) is that some people are awarded more privileges than others. And because of it, it’s easier for them to navigate their way into certain avenues than others. It’s not a slight at your success to admit that you had it a bit easier than others. It’s not going to make your successes disappear just because you’re light skinned and privileged over darker skinned Black people.
But ignoring your privileges or getting defensive isn’t the way to go about it. If you don’t want your light skinned being looked at as the REASON for your success, then work on learning why light skin is a preference inside and outside of the Black community. And then do what you can to change it. That way, when you make it, you can honestly say your skin color had nothing to do with it and it was 100% on you. In a perfect world, that is the case. But in the real world, certain people are awarded certain privileges just for being born a certain way. That’s the world we live in. And ignoring it or getting mad when people who are less privileged than you in some way point our your privileges, isn’t going to change anything.