He Wanted a Certain Type of Black Girl
Loving Black women runs deeper than loving those with light skin
Summer 2011: I was watching a Harry Potter movie (don’t ask me which one because I really don’t remember) when a scene completely unnecessary to the plot came up. Harry is sitting in a restaurant and he captures the attention of a young Black woman. She’s slender, tall, light-skinned, big 3C curl pattern hair; think McDonald’s commercial. One of the co-workers who had invited me over to watch this Harry Potter movie couldn’t keep his remarks to himself:
“Man… Black girls like that are so pretty!”
I didn’t know how to respond to that. The fact that he had the gall to say that right in front of me let me know that he obviously didn’t think there was anything wrong with that statement.
“Black girls like what?” I asked.
“You know, like… that skin tone and that brownish hair color with the big curly hair! So pretty!”
This was years ago. I don’t remember my response exactly, but I’m sure it was something along the lines of, “What about everyone else?”
The ideal Black girl
This wasn’t the first time I heard someone express their love for the ideal Black girl, and it most definitely wasn’t the last. I see it most frequently in movies. Women like Zoe Saldana, Paula Patton, and Zendaya are frequently cast as the love interest for the White male protagonist. Do I have a problem with any of these celebrity women? Not necessarily (well, except for Saldana with her Nina Simone biopic b.s.). I just found it puzzling that it seems like when a White male protagonist needs a girlfriend of color, Hollywood knows exactly who to call. And that person tends to fit a consistent description:
- Light skin, often mixed race with a White parent.
- Long straight (or slightly curly) hair.
It’s as if to say: “Let’s cast somebody Black but… not too Black, okay? We want a big name but we have to make sure White people will still like her.”
Let’s take the 2006 film adaptation of Dreamgirls, for example. It stars Jennifer Hudson…