For decades, the black community has suffered with a misguided notion about their darkskinned members. Since the dawn of European colonization, people of color with darker skin have struggled with the perception that their melanin made them dirty, looked bad, or was somehow wrong. Many couldn’t even find refuge in their own cultures- the idea that fairer skin was somehow better had infected class, creating colorist and racist societies.
The rise of movements aimed at diversity and black awareness, in truth, did little for helping to get rid of this stigma. More often than not, a company’s “diversity” hire would be a white Hispanic or a light skinned person of color. Even the media was failing in accurately portraying the beauty of the black color spectrum; models, actresses, and public figures that dominated the black pop culture scene were primarily light skinned, with loose curly hair, and light eyes. In a time where everyone was supposed to be being uplifted, it still seemed like there was a community of the same people being left out. And it wasn’t just noticed by underground projects and spoken about in hazy open mic nights- artist such as Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar began releasing music admonishing the beauty of dark skin.
When Disney’s live action adaptation of The Lion King was released, it represented a major milestone in terms of Hollywood’s diversity. Much like Black Panther, the push to have an all black cast and crew was noted and celebrated. However, one key difference between the two films was the release of an unoffical album to accompany the film, which was a collaboration between Beyonce and several artists all surrounding the same topic- black self love. One such song was “Brown Skin Girl” featuring prominent Nigerian artist WizKid.
The song centers around the beauty of a “brown skinned girl”. In it, Beyonce, her daugher Blue Ivy, and WizKid remind this girl to keep her head up, that her skin is the “best thing inna world”. This uplifting call came at the perfect time, where women and girls of darker complexions were struggling to be confident and love themselves. Through the song, he pushes the message that “brown skinned girls” shouldn’t have to be self conscious. Lyrics like “your skin is not only dark, it shines and it tells your story” and the chorus “brown skin girl/ your skin just like pearls/ best thing inna world/ I never trade you for anybody else” helps to affirm that message. With their lyrics, they’re managing to inspire thousands of melanin-rich women and girls to love themselves, no matter what they’re faced with in society.