“I am half Black and half White…My parents are from Puerto Rico…We were raised in Europe…”
Those were some of the stories I fictitiously conjured up in my mind when I thought about my dark skin but you would know it was not true when you saw me in person. I was ashamed of my dark skin so I lived in a pretentious world believing that I could be beautiful if I was born of another race.
This skin was a portrayal of rejection, disappointment, failure, lack of love, and pain. But, at the end of the day, it didn’t matter where I fell on the color spectrum and I was still a beautiful, Black girl.
And, it didn’t help that my peers felt the same way about my dark skin. The kids in kindergarten used to say that I was too dark and my skin was dirty so they threw water on me to clean me.
Or, I was called “burnt” because I wasn’t fair-skinned like the kids in my class. What do you tell a child who is constantly being tormented by her peers because she is too dark? So, I dreaded going to school.
I just wanted to die so that God could make me over so I would be like the beautiful people who had the perfect skin tone.
As I grew older, I just didn’t fit the “model of beauty” type which required me to have lighter skin. This dark-skinned, para-toed, and nappy haired girl from the Little Haiti streets of Miami, who developed physically faster than her peers, just did not fit in.
I can tell you in the late 80’s being a dark-skinned person was not the ideal type so I felt disgusted with myself. My Barbie dolls didn’t look like me but they too had perfect skin.
I chose to deny my Blackness by claiming to be mixed with other races but it wasn’t enough because the name calling continued. I was called “dirt,” “charcoal,” “blacky,” and host of other words.
What I noticed is that those who were lighter were favored, more loved, and appreciated.
Dark skin women were last ones to be picked in relationships.
I was told by my family members to use skin lightening soaps and creams to become lighter. Lighter-hued skin seemed to be preferable to darker skin, but it didn’t matter where I fell on the color spectrum and I was still a beautiful, Black girl.
Eventually, after high school, I learned to embrace my beautiful, God-ordained skin. My skin was my beauty and I learned that I was made “fearfully and wonderfully” in God. I pushed through the tormentors who teased me about being too dark and learned to love the skin I’m in.
It wasn’t easy because the dark vs. light skin debate has been a taboo subject in the Black community. Yet, Blacks still use skin color to discriminate against each other which hinders the progression of the entire Black community.
“Judge not according to appearance but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24).
The Black culture has come from years of oppression and hatred imposed by slave owners, forced to think that because of our color, they were inferior but we have somehow reverted back to having this sort of mindset which, in fact, hurt us.
This skin has a history. It has endured the best and worst of time. Yet, this skin remains beautiful and has power surrounded by unlimited confidence. My worth goes beyond the skin I’m in. I’ve learned to love the skin I’m in.