colors. i have always been a lover of colors. crayons, pencils, markers, flowers, you name it. this is a colorful world, after all, why not love it?!
as a black girl growing up, color was extra important to me, because it wasn't just a sensory stimulus to enjoy or create with, it was, is, a part of who i am. i am colored (though i'm not particularly fond of this wording). now for the most part, us black kids grow up in homes with parents that are constantly affirming us and our identity as black people. why? well, simple. if we aren't affirmed at home, if we aren't told and reminded again and again that black is beautiful, then any and every other person who has something else to say to and about black people will tell us who and what we are, and they don't use the words "black" and "beautiful" in the same sentence.
story time! i grew up in a white community, always have. i went to a white school, both public and private, and then i was finally homeschooled (which was obviously a black school haha). i also went to a black church, which, other than my own home, was the only time i really got to interact with black people, and i very much cherished sundays and wednesdays for that reason. in school, i was one of 6 black kids in my class, (which is actually a lot!) but i was often singled-out as the "good one." i was a good listener, i never got in trouble, and i was top of my class. it just so happens that the other black kids, aside from one girl with whom i was friends, were mean, the bullies of my grade. initially they were mean to me same as anyone else (because the bullying had nothing to do with race, it had to do with third graders being third graders), but then the "leader" of the pack had crush on me, and i was then protected from anyone in the school, a memory i remember and laugh at quite often hahaha. but i digress. point being, i wasn't friends with the black kids in my class.
now, because of the way these kids were viewed, though all the white kids knew more than one black kid, i became the token black friend. i was popular, and it sure wasn't because i was outgoing! i was not shy at all but i was introverted. i was popular because i was the "good," "pretty," "well-spoken," "smart," and "friendly" black girl. everyone wanted to play with me on the playground, everyone wanted to hang out with me, sit next to me, and most (and worst) of all, they all wanted to touch my hair. this i hated. i hated it with a capital HATE. now why, you may wonder, would i so deeply hate something that so many people love and ask for?! everyone loves it when people play in their hair! and with that i totally agree! but that's the thing, they weren't playing with my hair. this wasn't my friends braiding my hair at a sleepover. this was kids, strangers, walking past me on the way to their desk, reaching out a hand to feel the softness of my curls. this was me being literally surrounded sitting at my desk as the kids grabbed my braids, pull them as long as they would go, and let go, marveling and laughing at how the bounced back. guys, i don't have a ton of childhood memories, but this one i remember vividly. i remember how violated i felt being touched and tugged by people that weren't even my friends. i remember smiling and laughing along with them as they were perplexed by the concept of shrinkage, but crying and cringing inwardly, wishing they would all remove their hands from my head and forget i existed.
i didn't want to be the token black kid! do you think anybody desires to be the "one?" the one friend people have of that race, that religion, that nationality? maybe for some people being in such a spotlight is appealing. "my, all that attention sounds delightful!" but that spotlight is painfully bright, and it blinds you to the ways you are being violated, and mistreated, and used.
ok wow, there's my story. i guess it needed to be shared, either for me or the person who reads it, because that's not even what i planned on writing about in this blog post. so Jesus, do whatever you want with this story! ok, back to my point hahaha cause boy did i wander!!
black kids need affirmation. we need affirmation because we don't live in a world that loves and accepts every beautiful and broken part of us. if we don't hear from our daddys and mommys that brown eyes are just as pretty as blue ones, or curly hair isn't a curse, or your sun-kissed skin isn't dirty, then we'll grow up thinking we're ugly, a mistake, unwanted, nappy and dirty kids. and we're not. we are beautiful. we are intentionally designed, we are masterpieces. each curl was individually crafted by the Creator, each drop of melanin was perfectly measured for each of us as individuals. we are kings and queens. we are not bound by beauty standards because we each define what beauty even means.
now, my point beneath the point is this, please hear this. this is not just a black person's need. this isn't something black kids need to hear and black adults need to be reminded of. this is something PEOPLE need to hear, need to be told, need to be reminded of. having grown up in white communities with white friends, i have been made privy to many things, many habits, many thoughts and many insecurities of my white friends, and it breaks my heart. two summers ago i was pondering the idea of tanning, as i often do haha. and for the first time ever, something dawned on me and i haven't stopped asking the question since: why aren't white girls told their skin is beautiful? now what's crazy about this thought is that media will say with every glorified breath that white girls are the picture of perfection. their perfect, porcelain skin, their glistening eyes told by the sky everyday that they are the superior color, their smooth, straight hair. straight but not boring, and just enough volume. heck, this isn't even just a white girl beauty standard, cause all us black girls grew up watching the same tv shows, the same movies! we sat painfully still as we begged our mommas to burn the curls out of our hair, "make it flatter, make it shiny." "mom, can i try colored contacts?" "mommy i don't wanna play outside, the sun will make me darker." the closer we got to looking like the white girls, the closer we got to feeling beautiful. so our mommas sat us down and looked us in our black as night eyes and told us we were beautiful. she told us that our curls were crowns, not curses. our daddys told us that brown girls were just as worthy of love as white ones, and any man who didn't agree didn't deserve us. these were things we needed to be told because the media sure as heck wasn't gonna say it.
but there it is again. if the media is saying to white girls and guys that they are beautiful and handsome, and not just that but that they are the definition of the words, then would anyone see the need to tell them? do their moms and dads sit them down, gaze into their eyes like the sky and remind them of their worth? that God intentionally made them the way He did? are white kids being told of the story of their creation? that God painted their blush pink cheeks by hand, that He dropped on each and every cute little freckle, that he straightened each hair Himself, even throwing in a little wave here and there, reminding Him of His favorite beaches? are white kids being told that they're beautiful? do they sit crying and annoyed because their parents made them say "i am beautiful" over and over and over and over and over again? do they roll their eyes every time their daddy says "God made you unique just the way you are" because they hear it all the time? do they hear it all the time? have they ever heard it? my heart has begun to break for the kids, boys and girls alike, who aren't having it drilled into their minds what they're worth. the ones that aren't getting pop quizzes on who God says they are when they leave the house and when they come home, to make sure that even after all they hear and are told while they're out they still believe it to be true.
back to my catalyst: white girls tanning. in general, i don't care if people tan. more power to you my dudes. but what i do care about is why. do you know how many white girls, friends or not, have complained to me about their complexion? "oh my gosh i burn so easily, i don't even tan in the sun i just bake!" "wow you can see right through me, i'm freaking translucent." "ugh i'm sooooooo pale, i wish i was as tan as you!" guys, take it from a black girl, we don't like it when you compare your tans to our skin!!!!! our color is not a destination! my shade may be something you tell the girl at the tanning salon that you want but you telling me that you hope to look like me by the end of summer isn't flattering. i don't even know if you're trying to compliment me or just get accountability for your summer goals. now, many black people will have many different reasons for disliking this, (and many may not care, heck some may even like it! just know, i am not one of them that do!), but my reason mirrors the paragraph above. my heart breaks for the fact that you so deeply hate the color of your skin! you've probably never put such a concept together, but i'd bet that it's true, you hate your color. it may not be for reasons of racism or discrimination, like i felt for instance, but the effect is the same. you don't like your color, you don't like the way you were created, and there's a reason for that. and again, it may not be as easy to identify as someone calling you a name at school or killing people the same color as you just because of their color, but i want you to identify it. why do i care? because you're beautiful!! and you should be reminded of that every single stinking day because you're not gonna feel like it everyday. we all know that "#wokeuplikethis" ain't the truth and what you actually woke up like you're ashamed of. ope, i went there. anyway, you need to be told you're beautiful whether or not you feel like it because beauty has nothing to do with how much volume your hair has or how clear your skin looks or how close you are to looking like kylie jenner. God wasn't referencing someone else when He made you. He wasn't measuring how far you were from perfection. He made you, looked at you, and said you were very good.
i'll leave you with this. one morning God and i were chatting and the topic of perfectionism came up and He said this to me, "miracle, where did i make perfect?" i immediately went to genesis, certain i'd seen the word there somewhere! well guess what. it wasn't there. i was shocked! i thought if there was anything that deserved to be deemed as perfect it would've been in there, and it wasn't. and we know creation is more than good enough to earn that gold star! God said to me, "miracle, i didn't make perfect, i made good." (read genesis chapter 1) that's it! so stop striving for perfection. stop letting media and magazines and celebrities tell you what perfection is because guess what, what they have you reaching for doesn't exist! but what does exist is a couple-thousand page book telling you and reminding you again and again and again for the rest of eternity that you are beautiful. God said you are very good, so don't let anybody tell you differently.