Cracks are bad. It’s bad when you step on them causing back injury to your mother. Smoking crack is bad, and cracking somebody upside the head is just plain wrong, unless it’s a plumber showing too much crack as he bends down to work under your kitchen sink.
So, when Oprah boasts that “black don’t crack,” it’s a compliment. It’s a shout-out to the melanin-blessed whose natural pigment helps protect against harsh sun rays that cause wrinkles and skin cancer.
I love my brown skin and the fact that it allows me to look at least a few years younger than I am, but sometimes I wonder whether it’s a detriment when it comes to certain professional and social situations.
For example, I flew to Atlanta for work last fall and was dressed in a blazer, jeans and high heels. It was a casual Friday look. My former Senior Vice President had on a similar outfit. So, imagine my surprise when the security guard at the building asked me if I was there visiting my parents. It’s been more than 10 years since I lived with my folks, and I’m not sure I’ve ever visited them on their jobs. I can only assume that he thought I was too young to be there for business. My response to him: “My parents are retired.” That’s the best I could come up with given my shock and the fact that I wanted to remain professional.
Do my youthful looks keep managers from promoting me or giving me more opportunities? The question obviously crosses my mind, especially when higher ups do a double-take when they learn I’m a homeowner with two degrees.
I also wonder how it affects my dating life. On more than one occasion, I’ve met a guy who was older than I thought, and who I almost prematurely dismissed thinking, “He’s probably still in his player stage.” On the flip side, I’m usually approached by fellas who are an average of five years younger.
When I disclosed my age, one youngin’ screeched, “You were born in the ‘70s!?” At least he was good at math.
I’m not sure how much looking young has to do with the professional or dating challenges of the SIS. Like with racism and sexism, being victims of ageism just fuels us all to overcome stereotypes. So, we deal with it. Besides, it beats the alternative.