“The Glass Bottle Trick” by Nao Hopkins, tells a story of a woman named Beatrice who is eager to tell her husband about her secrets that could put her in grave danger. In the story, her husband has a tree with glass bottles that are used to capture the souls of his first two wives. In the story, her husband struggled with accepting his blackness, so he made sure to date women lighter than him.
When his first two wives became pregnant, he became infuriated because he was afraid that his kids would be the same color as him. In order to rectify the situation, he took the lives of his first two wives. Beatrice finds this out when she discovers the bodies.
I would absolutely recommend this short story to anyone who loves a good thriller. However while reading this short story, a few thoughts dawned on me. The husband was no doubt supposed to be the villain, but a part of me feels that the wife also played a part.
In the story the husband struggled with colorism and anti-Blackness. Now when it comes to colorism, it affects darker individuals on the spectrum of certain races. Whereas, people with lighter complexions are welcomed more privileges.
Colorism is still a huge issue, and we can see these effects even in the media. Just pay attention to Black sitcoms. Hollywood directors will mostly cast women with lighter complexions, and the men will mostly have darker skin. When it comes to colorism, lighter skin is seen as more digestible in regards to femininity, and darker skin is seen as more masculine and threatening.
Now the reason why I say that Beatrice is at fault too is because throughout the beginning of the story she benefited from these privileges. She took advantage of what came with having lighter skin. She thought marrying her husband was her winning a prize. He had loads of money and land, and she did not care about why he chose her.
Isn’t that a reflection of society now? We see so many actresses and people in society that benefit from colorism who take advantage of these privileges, but are shocked when this line of thinking backfires. Everything is wonderful until these privileges no longer serve them.
I am not saying that people who inherit these privileges should feel bad about themselves, but if you are not using your privilege to make changes then you too are a part of the problem. This short story just tells the truth about how damaging anti-Blackness becomes.
I believe that Beatrice thought she was loved in the beginning, but if someone doesn’t love themselves, they cannot fully love someone else no matter if you look perfect on paper. He loved Beatrice’s skin and her privilege, but he did not truly love her because he couldn’t accept her blackness.
Because she was lighter, she was tolerable. I believe that people who accept having their privilege and do not do anything to make a change or make the playing field balanced. They become complicit in a system that only sees them as tolerable and not loved, talented or even accepted. If one is okay with being complicit and accepting of the privileges that come with having lighter skin, does that make one colorist too?
If you answered yes to that question, do you think that made Beatrice also a colorist? If so, what does that say for your favorite celebs who benefit from colorism, but does nothing to actually change the system?