What This Athlete Just Said About Dark Skinned Black Women Is Horrendous

April 14th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

Dark skinned black women have to confront disparaging messages about their looks every day.

Which is why The Instagram account @problkthought posted a note of encouragement to dark skinned black women or women with "African features" on Friday morning. 



"Your African features are all you need for attractiveness," read the post. "Never tell yourself or let anyone tell you that in order to be attractive you must be mixed."

While that message should not be controversial, the response of retired NBA player Gilbert Arenas certainly was.  

Posting under the the Instagram account, Arenas asked if anyone could even name a "beautiful black woman on the outside" who was "Tyrese black." Tyrese is a dark-skinned male R&B singer and actor. He then said actress Lupita Nyong'o is only "cute when the lights are off." 

Gilbert Arenas

Arenas who is not a light-skinned black man, was promptly dismantled in the Instagram comments.  

The user @problkthought wrote that Arenas' comments are "steeped in colorism, something that has spread horribly among our people." 

Comments about colorism on Instagram.

Other users pointed out that Arenas is raising dark-skinned daughters. 

Comments about colorism on Instagram.

Another user asked, "why do black men hate us so much?" 

Comments about colorism.

The backlash even reached Twitter. 

Arenas eventually made an apology Friday that seemed to dodge the original comments. 

Although he specifically referenced dark skinned women with African features and made comments about a dark-skinned actress only looking "cute" with the "lights off," Arenas said he misunderstood the original post. 

"I fucked this up so I deserved the hatred that comes," he wrote. "I was trying to defend all shades of black but that's what the post was also doing." 

He then took the opportunity to lament that "pussy prices" will double for him as a result of the backlash, and then took a parting shot at Nyong'o.

"I know pussy prices about to double up on my ass from black women 😒) and as for lupita she ain't cute to me sorry...just like I'm not cute to 95% of u..."

Arenas' comments were exactly the kind of thinking Pro Black Thought's original post intended to address. 

The message combats colorism, a color-based form of discrimination, which is part of the legacy of colonialism and slavery that's put white people and their physical features at the top of society. It's the idea that lighter-skinned black women or women with less "African features" are inherently prettier. 

Colorism explains why film and media tend to over-represent lighter-skinned black women like Beyoncé as beautiful, with less representation for women who look like Viola Davis or Lupita Nyong'o. 

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