I was 11 the first time I heard the term "light-skinned-ed." (And yes, the kids said it with the extra "ed.")
My family had just moved and we were living in a mostly black community for the first time. Someone had asked me the now-familiar question "What are you?" I had learned pretty quickly that when people asked they wanted to know what race I was; why did I look the way I did? "Black and white," I'd said. "Oh," the girl said, "I thought you were just light-skinned-ed."
It baffled me at the time.
Now, I claim the term as my invitation or pass into black womanhood. (I say black womanhood specifically because I felt most estranged from black women growing up--even though I wanted so much to belong.)
When I claim my light-skinned-ed-ness, it's not to valorize my skin color, but to accept the way that in some ways I belong to the world of black womanhood. I can look like this and not have to Prove my allegiance.
Yes, well, then why claim it at all? Why not be on firm ground and simply identify as a black woman? Many women -- more light-skinned-ed than I -- have done that through the ages. The answer is simply that it would negate my actual experience -- it doesn't tell the whole of the story I want to tell.
It's complicated this naming business. I'm not sure that I've figured it out completely myself.