I have written on this blog about my feelings on black girl magic as a girl who is still seeking magic in her blackness. I have also addressed the effect of growing up black, whilst consuming white content. Today I will shed light on the effect of the environment on an individual. I will talk about being black as a kid and what that did to me. I will point out the fact that my mom was and is three shades lighter than me and the turmoil that this put me through. Today I will address colourism, which as Lupita Nyongo said, is the daughter of racism.
Growing up my best friend Esther, was a few shades lighter than me. She still is. She has big beautiful eyes that seemed to fill with tears which gave a sparkling effect. Even at that young age, she had a mane, while I had hair or something like that. Esther was not only light, she had the brains to match. While I was only fluent and eloquent in the ABCs Esther not only understood that but she spoke Algebra fluently. With both our mother’s teachers in the same school, Esther and I were friends for the longest time, we shared the same class and were deskmates for an inaudible amount of time. Esther had the preferred colour. She was and is still lighter than I will ever be.
Black is supposed to be beautiful. Being a midnight black came with a number of challenges. I never felt beautiful, the environment in which I was nurtured never celebrated black girls. With this in mind, I had to cultivate interests and skills that would propel me to greater levels. I had to ensure that I stood out. Confidence and eloquence seemed to be my greatest assets and this is what I focused on. I sharpened my public speaking and debate skills. I was compensating for not being beautiful by ensuring that I brought a heap to the table.
Unfortunately for me, I attended a mixed high school. Here my experience with colourism widened, I not only met boys who preferred lighter girls but they preferred them thick. In my high school context, my American height and runway body was a liability. Girls got picked because of a number of reasons among them skin tone, the fairer the better and size, preferably size 6. Faced by a new challenge that was size, I decided to focus on my studies, maybe if I happen to be smart, they’d notice me right? The joke was on me. My self-esteem suffered and as a result, I developed a defence mechanism, I put up walls around me to ensure that no point will my body or skin tone be a tool for my destruction.No one was ever going to like me for a period of time then drop me just because my shade or waist size went out of style. I had my armour.
My campus experience was better, not because the preferred standard of beauty had changed, It had actually worsened but because I was self-aware. I knew that I would forever be black and because of this, I had to embrace it. I had to choose myself daily. I had to ensure that at no point will I feel sorry for the way I naturally looked my God does not make mistakes. Maybe its this awakening sense of self-awareness that has abetted the woman I am today. Confident, eloquent, joyful and very much self-loving. From one black girl to another, trust that you are beautiful and in the right body .For God does not make mistakes.
Just like Lupita, a part of me will always identify with not being beautiful, this to me is my blessing in disguise as it’s the incentive that I need to make greater strides in life.