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Actor Lance Gross and his wife/stylist Rebecca Gross have one of the most adorable families on Instagram. Like, really. They often give fans a peek into their lives by posting videos and photos of their love and beautiful daughter Berkley, affectionately called ‘Turtle.’ (insert #wombfire).

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Over the holidays, the pair documented their family trip to Big Bear, California, where they snapped a couples’ photo that raised some red flags:

The picture is an easily meme-able moment for the tragic ‘single girl,’ who sits to the side as her other friends are swallowed up in the arms of their men. Not only is this trope triggering, but the woman who is ‘left out’ is the only woman in the photo who isn’t racially ambiguous.

Now, before you all start rolling your eyes over the ‘weeping, dark skin woman narrative,’ let us not forget the relentless bastardizing of  Black women by Black men in the media landscape. From Young Thug to Trick Daddy, the Black woman continues to be the butt of some joke for a lot of men, and we just aren’t laughing at that sh*t.

Imagery matters. And if we, as Black women, are sensitive from centuries of the glorification of mixed women as the ‘ideal,’ we have the right to be sensitive. From field/house politics to the nuances of the ‘video girl with the wavy hair’ that the rapper always wanted in 90s videos,  we have been bombarded with visual proof that certain skin tones of women are less desirable to men. And just like it took centuries for this hate to rot into our culture, it could take centuries to undo.

So when we see this girl, tossed to the side in a longing pose as her friends of lighter hue relish in partnership, we feel some type of way.

In Gross’ explanation of the photo, he dismissed criticism over the photo, mansplaining it away to be a joke they do annually:

Well Mr. Gross, Black women are tired of being the joke. And we will continue to call you out until you approach us with the same sensitivity your daughter would want.


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Dear Lance Gross: The “Lonely” Black Girl Isn’t A Joke  was originally published on