In 2005, one of my favorite people in the entire world was born–my little niece Joycelyn. A unique and wonderful piece of joy and happiness that God bestowed on our family, she is awesomely beautiful. Ahe has beautiful dark eyes with envy evoking eyelashes and a blazing smile. She is also a beautiful dark brown complexion that rivals the finest dark chocolates.
I love her very much. I know that she can grow up to be anything that she wants to be and that her life will not be defined by the fact that she was born a woman or the fact that she is black and never by the fact that her blackness steers on the side of the deepest spectrum for many who quantify color.
As I type this, my heart is heavy after having watched this poignant video preview of the upcoming documentary “Dark Girls.” I would never want my darling niece to feel hurt or pain because of how she was created or how she looks which is more than good enough.
I know I cannot protect her from the world. I know I cannot be by her side at every waking moment but I will do what I can to help establish in her a sense of self as strong as a warrior because I know that one day someone will say to her, “You’re cute for a dark girl” or “You’re dark skinned but you have good hair.” It pains my heart that I know without a shadow of a doubt that she will hear these things, if she has not already, as the remnants of slavery throws around its dark words that wound and destroy.
Colorism is still alive today and anyone in denial about that fact is not being true to themselves. It’s disheartening to know that we still care so much about such things – a meaningless attitude towards skin color which has speared the side of our community for years. And just like i worry about my little niece Joyclen, there is also my other little niece who is fair skinned with ashy brown hair and bubblegum pink lips and I also wonder how she will handle the comments about her skin color. The stereotypes that surround skin color is rampant throughout our community even though it lays heavily on one side and all the burden of skin colorism is not equally shared; it is our dark brothers and sisters that carry the heaviest of the unnecessary load. The dark girls documentary explores the deep-seated biases and attitudes about skin color outside of and within the black american culture.
I’m going to call my niece today and ask her how another day of kindergarten went. I want to hear her voice, laugh with her and tell her I love her and that she is beautiful. I want her to hear that as much as she can so that when she needs it, her armor is ready–built in–and hateful words won’t hurt as much. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words…well, they do hurt. But not today, she’s going to hear how beautiful she is today and other words that fill her up with pride so that she is prepared for tomorrow; so that she is prepared to be proud of her black skin.