Monday, September 1, 2008

color conscious

You are not black.

"Your toffee colored." the little girl declares to my friend Noel. Freeze Frame. I don’t want to hear anymore. I don’t want to listen. I don’t want to see. But it’s too late and the reality of her statement hits me as hard as the reality of the mirror. For me, color remains a small detail in the canvas of a person. For her, color is everything. Black is a term that is too painful to shameful to embrace. Black is not beautiful. Black is not good enough. Blacks are a dime a dozen. So instead she and others find adjectives to describe themselves, to define themselves as something, anything, other than black. Ebony. Chocolate. Dark Brown. Toffee. There is a sense of superiority that comes with a lighter complexion. It’s a concept that still I do not understand, I can not understand. I refuse to entertain or even tolerate an idea that tells a child that they are inadequate. The disappointment is that even if I wanted to, I will never understand. I have not grown up here. I haven’t even lived here long. I have nothing to share with her. I don’t have words of wisdom. I don’t have answers, a solution. I can’t fix this. Then again maybe nothings broken. I hate the mentality of coming here to fix things. There are expectations and systems in place that i cannot begin to understand. But I have patience and I have time. I'm learning to listen rather than talk.

peace. love. grace


Brittney said...


I've written in my journal a lot about similar bits of conversations etc since I've been here. maybe I'll blog abt it as well.

truth be told, it's not about coming here to fix them, it's about recognizing the things that unite us... internalized racial inferiority being one piece of that.

skin issues, ideals of beauty, self categorization, othering... we use bleaching creams from brazil to botswana. it's not a them thing, it's an us thing.

no child is inadequate. i wish these little black girls were socialized to recognize their inherent beauty. they.are.gorgeous.

...and a lot of them don't know it

MLEmary said...

: )I'm so thankful that you are experiencing all of this. It's totally going to inspire your art and inspire your heart... I know you don't cry, so I got a little teary eyed for you.


Brittney said...


this was on my heart all day, esp at kayamandi today. your tone seemed a little helpless, but i think your presence, positivity, energy, connection are all effective forms or resistance and rebuilding. ie, lpaying the south african form of "ring around the rosie" breaks down barriers, dancing with the seventh graders and learning to "cut the cake" makes you a role model. and girl talk on top of desks on rainy days frames your own beauty and mirrors theirs.

peace, love, solidarity.

Doris said...

Yeah Lovely lynn. Each road leads us to another road. While on this journey,Enjoy inspite your confusion.Rember it is a time of preparation for the next step. Mother Africa has Many lessons learn and live through the struggles and unity. It remains a beautiful place with beautiful people. Love mom