This weekend was just like another one, I got myself ready to listen to a favorite you tuber, business woman and natural beauty aficionado and I was super excited to learn that she was going to discuss an issue that all women have had to deal with at one time or the other. That is the issue of self esteem and how we can move beyond thinking poorly of ourselves to being strong and bold confident women despite our flaws. I loved her rawness and her ability to let her truth speak.
But, after listening to her speak, feeling a okay and empowered, the little men in my head started churning her words around. As her words churned over and over in my mind – I hit pay gold and I wondered if we could all just get along.
It is no secret that race has played an important role in American history. Even till today, race still divides us regardless of our willingness or our unwillingness to deal with this issue head on. But, she went ahead to talk about the issues that exist amongst minorities and immigrant communities in which the color of our skin and our ethnicities often divides us. She discussed this issue by putting it all down to the color of the skin. Yes. The light skin vs dark skin dichotomy. Please, give me five seconds to roll my eyes.
I come from a West African country in which light skin is implicitly stated as the standard of beauty. Many women who are of a darker hue, often find themselves resorting to hydroquinine and other chemical means to get themselves a brighter yellow , more whitish skin. For many women, they’ve sold themselves on this idea that light is actually better, prettier and will do all sorts of things to acquire that color even if it is at a cost to their skin and a higher probability of acquiring skin cancer.
Many conscious people have stood up in recent years to fight this mindset – we’ve definitely heard songs featuring the black woman, dark skinned, beautiful and goddess like. We’ve heard of men often loudly eschew all lighter skinned women as they loudly espouse their preference for darker skinned, big boobed and big butted women who represents Africa at least in their minds. Often times, I have wondered what happened to the others?
One will really think that since it is 2012, certain issues will not be part of our conversation anymore. You know that we would have transposed this need to divide ourselves into light skinned and dark skinned. That we would be able to think deeper, beyond generalities and beyond boundaries but that unfortunately isn’t the case. We’ve learnt how to put a particular color on a pedestal while at the same time, making others of a different hue feel inferior and almost like second class material.
I know many on reading this will wonder if it isn’t about time that we set the standards of beauty on its head as we talk about the majority. But, I will ask that as we set this standard of beauty on its head – we ask a certain question – at what cost? I’ve often quoted that Africa is not a country. Neither is African a particular hair texture or hue. We are as different from the East to the West and from the North to the South, that one will think that after millions of years of being on the continent, mixing with each other and mixing with externalities that we would be at a point in which we are embracing our differences and have started seeing our beauty in our difference but that isn’t the case. We’ve learnt a new trait. A converse trait in which we take the insecurities taught to us by our colonialists and turn it against ourselves. We’ve learnt to view our lighter brothers and sisters as enemies and as people that we need to teach just to be like anyone else. You know bring them down a peg or two. This is also known as the crab mentality.
Let me remind you all that there is an African proverb that goes like this, “if you want to drag someone into the mud, you will need to remain within that mud to hold that person down’. In the process of feeling better about our color and our Africanness, we’ve made others who are African but look slightly different feel less African about themselves. So, basically, you’ve sold your brothers and sisters down the river just to lift yourself higher. Almost like selling your townsfolk during the slave trade for money , power and fame. What does it profit you when you make others feel small so you can feel big? Yes, the person might get some issues but at the end of the day – you’ve sold your soul.
It is interesting to note that in one of Beyonce’s older interviews, she discusses a similar issue. She was so scared of what other people will say about her. You know , lighter skinned people are considered stuck up that she locked herself up in her world and only came out to play when her talent kicked in and refused to let her stay hidden. Basically, the Beyonce we saw was who she allowed come out on stage and when not on stage –she hid. She was extremely shy. A familiar story that resonates on a personal level.
You see, we often spend an enormous amount of time listening and telling the story of others. You know those that are marginalized because of how the media portrays certain colors that we often forget that there are others who are often dealing with the prisons that we throw them in and lock the doors.
We , as a community need to release ourselves from mental slavery. We cannot truly be free until we give others their freedom to be, to enjoy who God created them to be and to be fully African without looking for some silly way to dig into their ancestry and make them seem less.
We, as a community need to learn to live and let live. We are all Africans. Africa is the birth place of civilization and the world. Everything began from here. All the different features and shades began from our continent. We need to learn to accept that, love that and most importantly embrace that.
**image from skincaretalk
Last Updated ( Sunday, 10 June 2012 23:27 )