Monday, 8 January 2018

When Being Dark Skinned and Beautiful is an Oxymoron

I am dark skinned and beautiful; I just wanted to start with that disclaimer so that we can get motives and ulterior motives out of the way before we dive in. When I first started school, my kindergarten class was full of white people, Indians, and mixed-race kids. I was the only African and a dark one at that.
Naturally, I had no friends.
The white kids ignored me, the Indians bullied me and the mixed kids tried to stand up for me once in a while. Conditions I guess, were optimum for me to feel like less than nothing. Weirdly enough it had the opposite effect. See, that was when I realized certain things about myself. For example, I was smarter than the average bully. The Indians would circle me and try to poke holes in my confidence by saying things like, “That doesn’t even look like a tree.” When I was drawing a tree in the dirt.
So I’d look up at the ringleader, who did all the talking, and ask, “Who said it was a tree?”
And they’d be stymied. And I would laugh inwardly and feel superior to them.
I was alone all the time, but that just taught me that I was happy in my own company. With the advent of the World Wide Web, I would hear similar stories of bullying and, well I don’t want to call it racism because we’re dealing with preschoolers who were probably just aping their parents; but the experience seems to have traumatized them rather than being a source of empowerment.
Being bullied by people of other races is one thing.
Being put down by people who look like you though, is something else again.
I think my self-esteem didn’t take a beating because I went home to my beautiful mother and my popular sister and I knew that people who looked like me, were worthwhile. I saw myself in my mother and that was stronger than a bunch of silly insecure children trying to make themselves feel better about themselves by trying to put me down.
Later in my school life, we had a visiting white American student; we all tried to make her feel at home and everyone was friendly with her. When she was taking pictures to take back home with her, she arranged us in form of skin color. The light skins in front, and the dark skins at the back. I didn’t even realize until later that that was the criteria but again, it was an ‘other’ applying her messed up standards to my life and not something to lose sleep over.
Because as long as the people around me see me, and value me, and think I am beautiful just as I am, the attitudes and prejudices of outsiders are easier to take.
But what if it’s your own people putting you down for your skin color? Calling you things like ‘nappy-headed’ in a manner meant to imply that it’s an insult and not just a hair type. Calling you ugly because you’re dark skinned.
It not only bothers me because it’s just wrong on so many levels but it also hints at a degree of self-hatred I just can’t fathom. Will Smith said that when he did Bright (the movie) he realized that people just want to feel better about themselves and that’s why we have these divides. So I guess people who put down the dark skins are trying to imply that they’re somehow better because they have less melanin? They should probably go listen to The Story of OJ on repeat for a bit. How can we develop as a people if we are so busy trying to be crabs in a barrel?
Many times we try to find someone who is more vulnerable than we are just so we can say to ourselves that we have our foot on someone’s neck. That there’s someone who’s wig we snatched. That we are better than someone. But are we?
Look at white supremacists for example. They chose Donny to lead because they figured it would ‘show everyone’ how much better the whites do it. It was gonna be the Era Of Whites Only and White Is Right and The Might Of The Empire and all that bullshit. Instead they’ve spent that time looking for other people to blame for Donny’s failures. Trying to surpass Obama by tearing down all he’s built – the fantasy was it would be done to white cheers, the reality is that it’s white tears being shed the most. The Empire is losing because the avatar for the empire is just a petulant self-absorbed immature child who wants people to stroke his ego. It lowers the entire tone of an entire country. An entire country has been reduced to one buffoon. I guess now they know how Zimbabweans have felt for many years.
I didn't even have to look for this meme. It was among the first to show up under the Mugabe tag.
The point is, how long can these white supremacist run from the fact that they thought they would be proved superior and have been shown to be extremely incompetent? I mean who wants to know that about themselves? All that superiority based on inferiority complex has come down to this…
And what happens to the Uncle Ruckuses out there, following blindly after this White is Might philosophy? How much more do they have to bury their heads in the sand? How many mirrors do they avoid? Can you ever look yourself in the eye?
It’s not too late.
It’s not too late to start loving yourself.
It’s never too late for that.
Ask Leo.
You can meet him for free in the Swamp is Full of Mystery.

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