One of my favourite authors of all time is a Canadian named Lawrence Hill. He, like me, is of mixed racial heritage. He, like me, struggled with crafting an identity in an era where ‘biracial’ or ‘mixed’ wasn’t really an option. I found his writing a major source of both inspiration and comfort in my teenage years where the race question loomed largest in my life (at least, compared to now). If you haven’t read any of his stuff, I highly recommend you put The Book of Negroes or Any Known Blood on your reading list.
In one of his books Black Berry, Sweet Juice, he riffs on an old racist adage: “the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice.” The implication is that dark-skinned women are more sexually attractive. Hill wryly completes the rhyme: “the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice. But if you get too black, it ain’t no use”, aptly noting that life is much kinder to light-skinned black folks than dark-skinned ones. This is a fact that is well-known within the black community, as both an internal conflict and an external one:
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