Poetry is not my strongest suit. But, like most things that pique my interest, I gave it at least one or two attempts, just to know I can. However, not all things get that one attempt no matter how much I am burning with curiosity.
Sometimes what ends up happening is a dance around the interest. This is like when we were kids and played ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’; we went round and round then crumpled down to the ground.So in that same way, one of the things I danced around but never did, was bleach my skin. And we will get to that before this post is over.
Let’s start from the end of the discovery and it begins with an attempt at poetry. I wrote a poem to capture my moment of clarity titled ‘Embracing The Dark’. And it goes like this…
Heart racing, Palpitations
Twitching eyes, Shaky hands
Ah! A new day has begun
Morning has come…
Yesterday, I was reminded once again
That progress moves faster in the light
I mean for the light
Or is it to the light
I always get confuse
And I try to rationalize
This is what leads me to my pathos
This is what leads me to my pawn broker
And our constant trade in unused jars
Of lightening cream
Throwing out and then replacing
And throwing out some more
And then replacing… some more
I stare at the jar on the table
and it snares back at me
beckoning, gleaming with a vague promise
I still do not understand
And another new day I resist the urge
Today will not find me slipping
Today will not find me dipping
Now I am good, I am dressed
I am ready to go
Opportunities abound, my goals are clear
Reality slaps me once more not to forget
Not to forget my mantra
It makes me believe in myself
For my children
And their children’s children
That is what this is really about
My mind clears it throat
let’s begin it says
Black is beautiful, I must not despair
Black is beautiful, Love without unnecessary compromise will find me
Black is beautiful, Black is my identity….
Please don’t judge the quality of the poem, it was written six years ago and I probably broke a hundred rules of poetry. But hey… I have learnt when inspiration strikes, you must run with it or lose it forever; so I took the chance.
But now we must go back to the beginning, where it all started.
In childhood being the darkest of my sisters. my mum decided to honor this fact by constantly referring to me as “the black one”. This wasn’t a problem while growing within the confines of my house, drenched in so much love that my ‘title’ was a special bond between me and my mum. But once I started school, black came with the understanding that it meant ugly and sometimes unwanted, outcast, unsuitable and a plethora of other things that really does not necessitate journeying to my Primary and Secondary school memories.
Thankfully, I’ve realize that there is a confusingly merciless and unthinking part of our culture that gives people a pass to say whatever comes to their head; without fully weighing the consequences. One part of our culture I can’t stand.
Anway, what changed or helped?
First of all, growing up, my head was always in the clouds dreaming up all kinds of wonderful alternate realities. This means most things registered but didn’t stay with me. And at the end of every school year, I noticed all shades, complexion wise in the top and bottom according to our exam result. Immediately dark meaning dumb (a word we use here to mean unintelligent) lost all truth plus it helped that I got a lot of double promotions and recommendations to skip grades.This gave all the evidence that I wasn’t even near dumb or unintelligent. So… victory number 1.
When the boys started coming by, they were in all shades. From really light skinned to deep dark skinned. I always joke that it seems like I had dated the United Nations, not in the number of people but in the variety. But In all honesty, two things really changed my view of relationships as it pertains to skin color.
The first is, whether white, black or mixed, it really didn’t take long for me to ‘forget’ what they looked like. Somehow, skin color and complexion gets pushed back into my sub-concious mind and the individuals character and personality comes to the fore front. It is really hard for me to explain this but when I realised that, I chose to believe it was the same for them as for me.
The second thing and person, whom I have to give a lot of thanks to is Halle Berry.
And it was the moment in her life that she was treated so badly by a man. I was extremely unhappy about it because like most people I felt and still feel she is a beautiful person. But her moment came with clarity for me; and if this can be done to Halle Berry a world(media) proclamed standard of beauty, then if the guarantee for happiness in a relationship is solely based on looks, no one will be spared from bad times.
I have reached my destination of total acceptance of my skin complexion. But I would be lying if I say there aren’t days I do not wish for a lighter shade. This has to do with my hair texture which some people naturally associate with being mixed race. I really could do without a day of inquistion. You can read all about it Here to understand what I mean.
However if the many Ethnicity tags, Mixed girl tags and the numerous ‘Where am I from?’ tags floating in cyberspace are any indication; it is safe to assume that if you do not totally fit a stereotype, people are going to have questions and opinons. Just the way of the world.
Bottom line, I have learnt through actively seeking to love all I have been given that, having the most widely accepted or favored skin tone comes with ZERO guarantee for a happy, fullfiled and purposeful life.
If you are unhappy and miserable about your life then no matter the ‘passes’ the world gives you, you will remain unhappy and miserable about your life.
And the world’s standards do not have to be yours. End of story.
Silly poetry sometimes carries a ton of meaning.
So do you feel having your type of skin tone has helped or encumbered the quality of your life? I would really love to have as many perspectives on this as I can, if you would please indulge me. Much thanks in advance
Images via Flickr