Seriously, Stop Calling Me ‘Chocolate’

Remember this one? It was a classic on EBONY.com. Yesterday, while leaving the gym, another guy called me “chocolate” in his loudest, most obnoxious voice. When I asked him politely to never call me (or really any other dark skin woman) that again, he asked why. I told him to check out BB!

But, just to refresh your memory on why being called “chocolate” may not necessarily be a term of endearment:

It’s 5pm and I’m just getting off of the J train in Brooklyn, walking fast because the same three guys that I always see on the block, and who are always trying to holla at me, are there doing their daily evening duty: harassing women.

Most days, I don’t let it get to me. But on this particular day, it’s cold, I have to pee and the last thing I want to do is be bothered by a guy THAT I WOULD NEVER GIVE MY FREAKING NUMBER TO.

Guy 1: “Damn, Chocolate”.

Guy 2: “How you doing, Chocolate?

Guy 3: “Chocolate, I know you hear me, girl!”

In unison: “Chocolate. Chocolate! Chocolaattteeee!”

I finally break. I’m by myself, and know full well that this could end in disaster. But I just can’t deal with the BS anymore.

“Stop f–king calling me CHOCOLATE!” I yell at the top of my lungs. I catch them off guard and they look at me for second not in lust but in shock. My father always told me that my mouth would be the death of me. But seriously, how much can a girl take?

It happens every day. Every. Single. Day. Some random Black guy feels the need to scream one of America’s favorite flavors my way and expects me to be flattered by it. And yes, I specifically said “Black” guy, because no other race of men has done this to me (and yes, I have been catcalled by dudes outside of my race).

As most women can attest to, unwarranted attention from men is occasionally flattering, sometimes amusing—most times problematic. But a particular annoyance for me is the “chocolate” moniker. Who asked you talk to me in the first place, let alone convince yourself that you are doing me—a dark-skinned woman—a favor by referencing my complexion? When did a cocoa bean become the one-size fits all “compliment” for brown girls?

I actually hate being called chocolate. It’s trite and annoying. Yeah, Daddy used to call me his “Chocolate Drop”. But there is something so very different between a father’s adoration and a grown man yelling at me across the street, trying to get my attention by comparing me and my deep brown skin to a dessert.

Still, one of my friends thinks I’m being to stuck-up, and tells me I should lighten up when I tell her the story. “Girl, you better be glad they’re not referencing your butt.”

Um, no. Wrong answer.

I’d be happy if men in general stopped catcalling women and objectifying body parts. (Like that will ever happen). But convincing your self that chocolate is a compliment has everything to do with the fact the being dark in our community is still seen as a deficit. I’m supposed to feel all gooey inside because “I’m pretty for a dark-skinned girl.” You don’t go around calling light-skinned girls ‘Caramel’ (do they?), or medium brown girl ‘Cinnamon’ or super light girls ‘Vanilla’.

A part of me wonders if other brown girls dislike being called chocolate. Am I over thinking this thing? Or am I justified in feeling that being catcalled by way of reference to my complexion is not only a bit ignorant, but also sort of pitying. And bruh, I do not need your pity.

Now, is it cute when my boo randomly, every now and again, says, “You’re so sexy with your chocolate self?” Sure. And therein lies the hypocrisy. But, he is my boo. And he if he had called me that before I knew him, guess what? He would not be my boo.

Holla at me “chocolate girls.” Let me know I’m not crazy.

Originally published January 16, 2014, EBONY.com

  • Tarah

    I doesn’t irritate my soul, but I’m not breaking stride for any stranger who calls me outside my name.

    • Melanie

      I have a few friends who don’t mind. I just hate being targeted for complexion, only. But, I can see how some women aren’t truly offended by it.

  • When my hair was red, I was often cat called “red” and it annoyed the hell out of me. I’m sure it’s probably even more aggravating for you since it’s your skin color and something that can’t be changed like hair color. I’m sorry you’ve dealt with this. It’s never flattering and it’s super disrespectful. And I think your feelings on this are completely valid!

    • Melanie Martin

      Hi Mollie! Thank you for your support and for coming to the blog. Yes, it’s annoying and for me, it made me feel like a piece of meat. But I completely understand how most people wouldn’t take offense to it. BTW, I love your hair color in your pic. xo, Melanie

  • Tia

    I totally understand where you are coming from. I am also a deep brown girl, but never experienced that sort of harassment. I guess if someone or multiple someone’s kept emphasizing my chocolateness on the regular I may get upset too. Occasionally though it doesn’t really bother me truthfully.

    • Melanie

      Thanks for your input, Tia. I think it’s more of the yelling and embarrassment that bothers me than anything. My father called me “chocolate” growing up, which of course was different. But I guess for me, it’s felt some type of way being called out for my complexion only, you know? *shrugs*

  • Erinn

    I think of it as just a description, so I’m fine with it. Though when I lived in DC, I got called “slim” ALL the time, and the repetition did get annoying. I think where you live matters too. In Los Angeles many of the black men I encounter don’t “see” black women, so being called chocolate would at least get a slight smile from me. 🙂

    • Melanie

      I think it could be where you live as well. It’s something I’ve experienced since forever, so I’ve come to feel like it’s annoying way to “reassure” me of my beauty at times. Being called “slim” is something a cousin of mine went through and she hated it as well. SMH. xo, Melanie

  • Lakitha

    I hate the chocolate reference also. It is always a black man who feels that he is uplifting a black woman by catcalling her. I never experience this from other groups such as Hispanics, Arabs, nor Asians. I never have a problem checking black men when they address me inappropriately. Too many ignorant black women accept catcalling as something positive, while at age 41, have always been annoyed by it. I do not care if people say that I sam stuck up. At least, I am educated with self respect.

  • April

    I’m a dark skinned young woman and I’m not bothered by being called chocolate when it happens, because I understand that most of those guys trying to speak to me like dark skin and are trying to be endearing. I just don’t like to be called to by guys in the first place so the attention that they give me at all for any reason is what annoys me. I understand where you’re coming from though and guys think its cute to refer to a woman’s complexion and it’s not, catcalling in general isn’t cute so they have no chance as soon as they open their mouths. You can admire a woman and the parts that make her up in more polite and respectful ways. Hopefully more men will learn those.

  • Nesha

    Hey girl, before I got my car I was taking the bus to school and work, and literally every single time I came out the house I was catcalled by all types of men. I am a dark skin girl and I love it but its so annoying when guys think its ok to say “I usually don’t date dark skin girls” or ” your cute for a dark skin” or even “i”m going to call you chocolate”. When I was a teen it used to flatter me but now I’m much older and I know my self worth it annoys the F#!*% out of me !

  • India Viguerias

    I’m light skinned and I have been called, caramel, cinnamon, red bone, yellow bone, and butterscotch. (among others) Men cat call like this all the time trust me it’s not limited to dark skin and “you’re pretty for a dark black girl”, I get “what are you mixed with”, you’re so pretty are you mixed?” “You are pretty because you are exotic”. All of it in any form is problematic. Men don’t realize that not only can they be frightening when they cat call but, the things they say are abhorrent.

    • Melanie Yvette

      Thank you so much for commenting India. My best friend deals with the same exact cat calling you do. I know for sure it isn’t limited to darker women. I can only give my perspective, but I have seen men do this to all Black women. It bothers me that men actually say to you “you’re so pretty are you mixed?” Like the fact that you being mixed is the reason you’re pretty. It’s annoying.

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