A friend and I were discussing our preferences in women recently, and we inadvertently happened upon the topic of color(ism). My friend (who is white) explained that he was attracted to black women who were “mocha” in complexion.

Oh this is gonna be good, I thought to myself as I invited him to expound. I knew he was describing light-skinned women, but “mocha” tells me nothing since, well, it depends on how you take your coffee.

“Not like straight out of Africa, but…you know, mocha. Is that bad?”

Not like straight out of Africa. The ease with which these words rolled off his tongue still amazes me as I type these words.

What I explained to my AccidentallyIncrediblyRacist friend is that the problem with what he shared wasn’t his preference—you like what you like—but rather the subtext that there is something wrong with having dark skin.

Was his statement racist? Of course it was. Is he racist? I don’t think so, nor do I think that being quick to assign him this label is useful in any way.

What’s more important is that there are safe places to have important and uncomfortable conversations like this. That’s why I created Abernathy.

And boy oh boy, is he missing out.

Black is beautiful.

Photo of Lupita Nyong'o

Lupita Nyong’o

Willie Jackson is a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Consultant & Facilitator with ReadySet, a boutique consulting firm based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is a frequent writer and speaker on the topics of workplace equity, global diversity, and inclusive leadership. Connect on LinkedIn or get in touch.