As a girl child growing up in Nigeria, I was totally unaware of complexion, what is preferred and its connotations in the real world. As I got older, I began to see via foreign movies the idea of what beauty is. Beauty was mostly anything that did not look like me. The blonde. The blue eyes. The accent that made words flow like sounds from a flute. And here I was: thin with long legs like that of an African Stork, tall, black skinned, coils growing out of my head and eyes almost pitch black.
Still, it never really hit me what we really meant to ‘some’ people out in the world until I relocated abroad as a teenager. Coils set me apart, colour spoke before I could let words out of my plump lips and I quickly realized that if I did not own my skin, if I did not accept my heritage and remain unashamed and unmoved by all of this melanin, I would have been further relegated, subjugated and made insignificant as so many others that look like me have in North America.
Opening up any social media platform or tuning in to any news channel, you are faced with reminders of what the world sadly still is. This is 2020 but yet racism remains prevalent. There is the continued, but subtle, systemic separation of persons based off skin colour and when it is unable to be poorly hidden, it is revealed with aggression and force that very often leads to death as seen with police violence in the US. I have often wondered where and when the black race erred to be hated and feared so much. It is heart breaking. It is an almost helpless, painful heartbreak. I often wonder if we do not bleed red as they do when cut or if our hearts do not beat in the same fashion as other races. It’s sad that to many, the black man is beneath an animal.
Alas, this is NOT my problem as a black woman. It is sad and painful but it is not the problem of the black man. This is the issue of those who choose to be racists. And yes, it is a choice. You either choose love or you choose hate. You choose peace or you choose strife. It is an issue within the racists that they and they alone will have to figure out for themselves. In the interim, we will not stoop or bow or be inferior. We are persons. With dreams, with strength, with tenacity. We will continue to show up in the world with our heads held high, with our beautiful bodies, amazing cultures, beautiful voices, our talents, our insights and intelligence and most importantly, our shining black skin. If you don’t like it, please find the nearest wall and bang your head.