Lightening Myself Up

April 10, 2007
Since about a year ago I've been wondering am I too black?
So yeseterday, I lightened myself up.
As I scrolled through my resume I took the period off the initial and spelled my whole middle name
I replaced my 'Decatur Where it's Greater' address with a sleek Harlem one (though it had more to do with wanting it to be clear I have a place to stay in the city and can begin working the monday after graduation)
Only on paper would I even think I looked too black because I love the skin Im in. And even though I did try and lead you on to think I had really lost my mind and put something on my skin to ligten me up like my Jackson kin, Im not making light of (no pun intended . . .really) that serious history of black people so socialized that black is inferior, that they ruined and bruised their skin and faces trying to become lighter.
But last year reading our internship assignments I felt extra black as it read under my name:
C. Jackson
Essence Magazine
Howard University

Decatur, GA
Just one of those lines would have hinted to my race. So all four together made me think anyone who read it really thought I was going to be Halle Berry in B.A.P.S.
As I prepare for the job search I am clear I would love to work for any good publication - not just a "black magazine."
I was told last week "You have to make them comfortable around you"
Is this a good thing? No.
Is it reality? Yes.
You work too hard and long not to be comfortable around the people you work with. So I'm making myself on paper the person I am in reality, a people person who likes, well, people. I'm flexible and open enough to make my circle peg fit in a square one.
One of my little high school poems that made me feel like India Arie in the Poetry Cafe we put on, and got me the nicknames "juicy" and "blackberry" afterwards, popped back in my head.
Beauty and the Black
If black is beautiful
and the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice
when you say I'm too black
am I just too beautiful?
am I just too sweet?
is it I'm just too juicy?
Or in your eyes, am I just too black?


*I know it's way early to be starting poetry ciphers but when the mood hits .. .


  1. You want to know something? When I saw the internship assignments, I was upset b/c I really really really wanted that Essence internship. I looked to see who they gave it to. And I saw your name. And your school. And where you were from. And, I admit, I said, "Damn, it figures."

    Not b/c there's anything wrong with you. But I mean, look at what mine said:

    Tara Pringle
    Reader's Digest
    Kent State University
    Cleveland Heights, Ohio

    None of that really says "black girl who has read Essence cover to cover every issue since 1996" to you, does it? So I had the opposite problem from you. Weird, huh?

  1. Wow,

    I must admit you startled me for a second--I thought you were actually considering using skin-lightening creams until I read it. Congratulations, and welcome to Harlem, it's really nice here!

  1. the joy said...:

    I Say do what you gotta. Maybe your mom named you Katie to put you in the game, ya know? its funny though, I have the same problem I have, existentially, with my voice. I say its professional, some say its whitewashed.

  1. La said...:

    HAHAHAHA i feel you. My name is Lauren Ashleigh. ASHLEIGH. LEIGH. Don't get much more assimilated than that.

    I always find myself torn on this issue. Should this even have to be a consideration for us? Should I, too, not be able to put Decatur or College Park on my resume, instead sticking to Atlanta cuz it's less threatening? No. But is it a reality? Absolutely. And you gotta be in it to change it.