Taye Diggs and all of his sexual chocolateness made our hearts stop as soon as we saw all of that glistening glory in ‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back,’ but Taye says he wasn’t always comfortable in his own skin. It wasn’t until he was an adult that he could overcome and get passed all the insults he had heard growing up because he’s dark-skinned.
Taye has written a children’s book called ‘Chocolate Me!’ where he draws from hurtful personal experiences from when he was younger and teaches kids to be happy just the was they are. As a dad with a 2-year-old interracial son, Taye discusses raising a mixed race child, how race affected him growing up, his parent’s making sure he always had positive black influences and how he feels Denzel and Wesley Snipes created a “shift” in the industry for the dark chocolate brothas. He also recently sat down with MyBrownBaby.com and revealed that it wasn’t until he accidentally came across an article about Tyson Beckford that he was proud to be dark.
On Growing Up With the ‘Light vs Dark’ Stigma
When I got into high school I started to hear, just from the black community, everybody is more attracted to the light skin girls and the light skin dudes with the light eyes. And from within the race the light skin black people and lighter brown people would make fun of the darker people. So then it was a completely different kind of struggle. And then funnily enough it was when dark skinned men, and this was just from my perspective, there seemed to be a shift where all of a sudden we saw Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes, Tyson Beckford. I’m still trying to figure out how this came to be. For me, when I saw Tyson Beckford hailed as this beautiful man by all people, that caused a shift in my being. And I remember literally waking up and walking the streets feeling a little bit more proud. And then after the movie “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” when I had my own personal moments of weakness, I just had to remind myself of all the people that really enjoyed that movie and just kind of lean on that.
On Raising an Interracial Child
Me and my wife, we discuss this and we’re still trying to figure some of this out just with Walker and what he should call himself and how he views himself. When I was growing up if you were half a shade darker than white, the white people would not accept you. You weren’t white. These days, thank God, people are a little bit more accepting and people’s views are broadening and it’s not as accepted to just choose one, how you might have been forced to in the past. I think it depends on the parents’ perspective and how they feel about those issues and how they kind of want to pass that down to their child. As proud as I am of my blackness, I think it’s important to show Walker that he should be just as proud of his Jewish mother and all of the culture that that includes as well.
On His Parents & Colorism
At five-years-old, none of us knew the can of worms we were opening… the little white kids who were making fun of me, they didn’t know. Their whole questioning was coming from the fact that I was different. None of them ever used the N word or negro. They just knew, “ok, his skin is brown, my skin is white, his skin is white, his skin is white, let’s make fun of him.” It wasn’t even in a nasty way at 5. But I obviously didn’t take it well. And then the older you get, once that understanding came, then that was a whole different issue. Then you have to deal with serious self-reflection. My mother was very fair skin and my dad was dark. And back in my mother’s day, she was seeking out the dark men because she didn’t feel black enough. So it’s a continuing issue. We’ve come a long way, but I don’t think we’re fully over it as a society.
On His Parent’s Teaching Self-Esteem
My mother and my father made sure that whatever we were going to see, whether it was a movie, play, TV, they always brought attention to black performers; without in any way being discouraging to other races. It was just this, “we want to make sure you understand who you are and regardless of what mainstream society puts out there or may think, this is what is happening. These are positive people that look like you and are doing great things so there’s no excuse for you to not be doing things just as great.”
Read more over at MyBrownBaby
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