I am NOT My Skin
I recently went to my 10 class reunion, and I must say it went very well. But I was reminded of something that troubled me and sometimes still does. The color of my skin. I’ve always been that in between chick. I wasn’t dark enough to be the cute dark-skinned girl and of course wasn’t light enough to be considered light-skinned. I was just mediocre, average in the sight of many.
What color are you?
I remember finding out “color” very vividly in elementary school. My parents never taught me color, they taught me character. I can’t remember if they ever told me people were white and black at a certain age. I remember being in kindergarten and I was playing with some friends who just happened to be white. Another classmate came over and asked me why I was playing with white girls and not the black girls. I was very confused and didn’t understand what she meant by not playing with black girls. These people were my friends and that’s all I knew.
It was at that very moment that my other set of eyes were opened. I didn’t stop playing with my friends. One of them I truly see as my sister to this day. She is one of the most vocal person I consider family, that isn’t black, on what is going on in this world. She has a bi-racial child, who is the most handsome, women-loving, young gentleman you will meet. (Hey Melinda!) What I did notice was how I was treated differently among my black peers, especially the females. It doesn’t take a scientist to realize that I was being pushed away because of obvious reasons.
Am I black enough or too black?
From that day forward I never felt right. By the time I got older, boys and girls were starting to like each other. Looking back now we were all tow (torn for those who may be confused) up! I first realized it wasn’t a pretty thing when the people who were around me that were made fun of or called ugly had boyfriends. Everybody was being chosen based on the complexion of their skin. The lighter skinned girls had boyfriends first, then the dark chocolate girls had boyfriends, and here I was stuck somewhere in the middle. I mean I couldn’t have a boyfriend anyway at the time, but everyone wants to feel wanted.
I questioned being black enough for a while. Because I am black, am I not allowed to have white friends? Am I a traitor to my people because of this? My parents had white friends, so it was normal for me to see different races of people. Of course I wasn’t. I continued playing with those I wanted to play with. Let me make this clear, I wasn’t JUST playing with the kids that weren’t white, but I was playing with people I liked. My friends that were white didn’t get upset on days I decided to play with the black kids and never brought it up. We were kids and we just played with the person/people we wanted to play with.
On the other side, as I got older we only had 4 white girls in my senior class and 3 white boys. We are the majority in my hometown. All I knew at a certain age was “my” people. I learned how to blend and mix with others because of my parents and friends/associates they had and my teachers. It was rare to see white people really in PB. Most lived in the surrounding cities.
It’s my first year at middle school and there is a boy who likes me. I wasn’t feeling it. Here was what I had been looking for, and I ran from it. He liked me for me, and that was it. He didn’t care about me being too dark for team light-skinned or not dark enough for team dark-skinned. I know this because we went to school together almost to graduation and he dated other young ladies of every shade. His type wasn’t based on looks, but what was on the inside. That was the first time that someone outside of my family made me feel that I was beautiful just the way I was.
I can tell you who my first boyfriend was, even though he wasn’t a boyfriend if my daddy reading this lol. He was light and bright, and I can honestly say he was my boyfriend because I didn’t hate him and think he was completely stupid. I don’t remember us ever holding hands or pushing and tripping each other like other “couples” did. What I did remember was seeing him with someone else at the end of the school year that was darker than me. His friend came over and told me that I didn’t have a boyfriend anymore.
How Did I not Notice?
Our wedding pictures are back and I’m super excited to see them. I’m going through the pictures and I stumble upon the pictures of my bridesmaids and I. What should have been an amazing feeling seeing my friends beside, was stopped short. I’m the darkest person in these pictures. Like there is no one my color or darker beside me on my wedding day. I obviously chose those that I love and love me to be beside me, but it never hit me until then that I was the “dark” one of the group. When did this happen? I have no idea, but it brought up so many feelings that I once felt.
Have I become that one dark friend in the group that you always see on IG? Have I subliminally separated myself from those that are darker because I’m not the cute dark friend when in a group of many. After crying, I got a grip. I’m not a big people person, although many people don’t believe me when I say this. So if I like a person, it’s because I feel there is something about them that mesh well. It has nothing to do with how light or dark they may be.
What I have Noticed..
Okay here’s the part when I get on my soap box and have my heart-to-heart speech. We as black people, have made fun of each other and have put it out into the atmosphere that the shade of our skin is more important that the fact that we are all black. In reality there shouldn’t be a team light-skinned or a team dark-skinned. We are amazing people. The fact that we come in different shades alone should be enough to tell you that. Whether we are dark as oil, which remains a business for the weathly or a white as snow, we are Black. We come from kings and queens. We have to realize that we are more than just color and we have the ability to shake some things up, if done right. *Jumps down*
First Feeling of True Blackness
I fell in love with the color of my skin in Panama City for Spring Break. Being outside one day I ended up getting a tan. I learned then and there, that my skin is beautiful. When tanned, my skin doesn’t get red or make me just dark. But my undertones allow me to get a golden glow. I wore my natural hair out for the first time during this trip. Finally feeling at peace with being me. I wish I could find a picture from that time. Feeling like a goddess and nothing has been able to make me get back as low as I have due to my color. I get a little upset looking into new make-up but I think that’s most of us.
Embracing the Skin I’m In
I’m not the same person I was back then. I now know that I am a beautiful almond brown. It has taken me a lot to get here. To feel comfortable in the color of my skin is amazing. I teach my child that she is pretty. Her skin makes her beautiful. And her personality makes her drop-dead gorgeous. She has helped me embrace myself more by trying to instill positivity in her. I couldn’t be happier than when I hear her look in the mirror and affirm to herself that she is pretty and beautiful.