SMH…Light Skinned Vs. Dark Skinned Dodgeball Game Hosted By Kid N Play

By Ayize Ma’at

About a week ago my 5 year old baby girl said to her Mommy when flipping through a baby doll magazine, “The white doll is better than the brown doll”.  Aiyana then asked, “Baby why do you say that?”  Baby girl said “You’re white”.  When my wife told me this I was like wow…how could any of the Ma’at children have a color complex and not be confident in who they are.  “Say It Loud..I’m Black and I’m Proud” is the mantra in our home so you can imagine how difficult it was for me as a father to digest the idea that my 5 year old daughter has internalized the “white is right” psychology that I’ve fought hard to prevent from being her reality.

After much thought and conversation I began to wonder if her expression was based on confusion around human color classification.  Why would she say her mom is white?  Why does she say she and I are brown and not black? Obviously this whole baby doll scenario morphed into a mangled mess in my mind so eventually after reiterrating her internal & external beauty, my wife reminded me that the world we live in is one where the predominant image of beauty is white and that it’s up to us to B Intentional about highlighting to our children the beauty in all shades of black. My wife also shed some light on how young children are often easily confused about race & skin tone and that, unfortunately, my daughter’s experience is more  common than not for young African American children. She said ” While our daughter’s words shed light on the fact that we all on some level are impacted by the predominant culture we live in and while we, as parents, have to be vigilant in making sure she knows she is beautiful—it doesn’t mean we have to label her as having a color complex or lacking confidence in who she is. What we do have to do is keep on feeding her positive, beautiful, and successful images of people that look like her.”

While I have and continue to make a point to reinforce self love and positive self images my family I urge the rest of our community to do the same.  I was a bit disheartened when I saw the below article regarding an event on the Tom Joyner Cruise.  I shook my head and said THIS IS WHY self hate continues to exist.  THIS IS WHY is necessary.  See the below article taken from

The Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage is well known as a place where people let loose and network. This year, there was a bit of controversy with reports of rapper Foxy Brown allegedly getting kicked off the cruise because of unruly behavior, but some believe that’s nothing but daisies compared to the dodgeball game that commenced upon the ship.

Hosted by the legendary rap duo Kid N’ Play, who acted as live sports commentators, the Light Skin vs Dark Skin Dodgeball Tournament took place on the top deck of the ship somewhere around the Gulf of Mexico on the second day of the cruise. The pair took turns at poking fun at the players, and EbonyJet reports that it ended up being good, clean fun.

Kid was rooting for the lighter team (but made sure to let EbonyJet know that he still has love for dark skinned women) and made fun of team members such as Pebbles and Christopher Williams who were attempting a victory. When the dark skinned team threw the last ball of the game, Play allegedly yelled, “Nino Brown wins!”

Ebony Senior Editor Adrienne Gibbs writes:

…many onlookers shook their heads, not sure what to make of such a tourney. The Black community has a long history with light-dark issues, most of which stem from post slavery trauma. The commentators didn’t get into all that, instead leading the group to poke fun at what is often a deadly serious topic.

Who won? Who knows. It all ended with fun and jokes and hugs.

With the black community’s long-standing underlying issue with light vs dark, and our even longer-standing attempt to rid ourselves of this particular plague, why would something like this even be entertained? I can’t decide whether or not making fun of it lessens its importance, or if this is further engraving this separation stigma in our minds.

Ebony spoke with comedian J. Anthony Brown who created the light skin/dark skin competition, and added this piece to the article:

Brown, who is dark skinned, says the seriousness of our color issues are not lost on him. He is old enough to remember times when skin tone privilege was deadly serious. However, he says, he created the “challenges” as a way to bring comedy and levity to the cruise and to the surrounding issue.

“There’s always been this interbattle of light skin and dark skin,” he says, breaking from his seemingly constant string of jokes to offer a bit of serious commentary. “It’s about nappy hair and ‘you are better than me.’ It’s an inner thing that comes out. I just had this idea to add a different flavor to what we were doing. It’s therapy.”

Question:  BLAM Fam is this just lighthearted fun or a game that should never have happened?

Read more: Tom Joyner Cruise: Kid & Play Host Light Skin vs Dark Skin Dodgeball? [Updated] | Necole

5 replies
  1. Charity
    Charity says:

    it was FUN! I'm not surprised by this having been created by a comedian. They make millions off of our (BLACK FOLK) drama!

  2. orisalase
    orisalase says:

    regarding your daughter's comments about the white doll being "better" and in the same conversation, classifying her mother as "white" sounds pretty healthy to me. sounds like she loves her mommy and associates anything being in the same classification as mommy as good. kids classify, because that's what humans are taught to do. they will still play with the "white" kid, "brown" kid, or "black" kid on the playground. we can learn much more valuable lessons from our children, than some of the crap we try to teach them.

  3. tra
    tra says:

    where does one start? OMG! so brother-in-law, somewhere in the middle of black history month my 6 1/2 year old son said, "mommy you're lucky, you're white and you can do whatever you want". what the heck!? needless to say i pulled the mini van over and let him know that i am not white and if i were, i could not do what i want. the conversation went on to let him know (among a whole lotta of other stuff) how proud i am to be black, how beautiful he is and all people are cuz God makes us in His image and (for real dough) i have never wanted to be white…for real i would love to be darker! but that is what he took from what he learned/read re: segregation and slavery. we continued to talk about how life without the contributions of blacks would be…com'mon…the super soaker…for a 6 year old that is all i needed to say. but your wife, my fabu sister, is right…even with the thoughts and stories re: jim crow, etc…my boys still describe folks by the color of the shirt they are wearing, not the color of their skin…even after the black history month stories have been told. since we all come from the same mother (africa) that is a good way to see folks. so to them, today i am gray, the color of my sweater. lastly…not such a good game on the cruise…tom joyner knows better than that. shame on him. i also think j. anthony brown may have an issue with the color of his skin…why is it always a topic for him?

  4. Malone
    Malone says:

    One of the questions that I have is whether light skinned vs dark skinned is more of an issue for women. If it is more of an issue for women, who are the women that are complaining. For instance regarding this dodgeball game would light skinned women have as much of an issue with it as darkskinned women? I'm a dark skinned bro. and within the past 15 years i've heard a lot of light skinned and dark skinned brotha's saying light skinned brotha's aren't "in" anymore. Jordan probably had a lot to do with that but It seems like men can joke about it and not take it so seriously. When will women be able to do the same?

  5. @hrwilliams7
    @hrwilliams7 says:

    How come they couldn't have played tall vs. short? Or thick vs. thin? Why even approach such an encendiary topic and reveal those types of scars? IDK. I think my sense of humor is great, but I don't see the funny in that at all. Maybe it's just me.

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