“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi
Two Snippets from 2006:
We cannot blame society for the banal ideology of beauty when we have been submissive to its ideals for far too long. Before our freedom, we let the white man depict our beauty through status. Masters bifurcated slaves based on their complexion and assigned labor according to pigment. The lighter complexion bevy of slaves were allowed to work indoors while the darker complexion burned from the obdurate sun rays. A color hierarchy was created and our ancestors passively bolstered the ideals that light or white was better. Slaves had no choice other than to abide by the rules of the oppressor but why are the unethical morals of slavery still in existence today?
African Americans have adopted the hegemonic ideals of slavery and look for someone to blame. We cannot blame society when we construct it with our false consciousness. African Americans have submitted as followers to the dominant ideology of slavery. We have failed to recognize our own and become the individuals our ancestors fought for us to be. Our ancestors fought for FREEDOM. FREEDOM to be valued as a person not property. FREEDOM to be looked at as a man not a n*****. FREEDOM to walk through the front door instead of waiting at the back porch. FREEDOM to classify beauty of one’s own accord rather than using “the Massa’s pigment pedastool.” We need to wake up. The definition of beauty is not restricted to one color, shape or size. If we do not accept ourselves for who we are, why should anyone else?
Alana, 7, every morning would “unconsciously” ask to go to the outdoor pool of our hotel. “Unconsciously” asking to spend hours outside, in Las Vegas, in the middle of July, heat soaring past 100 degrees and me, a dark skin African American woman, with a color complex, to escort her. As her babysitter I agreed to accompany her but with strict stipulations. I chose secluded areas where trees could block the lethal sun rays that held the power to abase my character and further abate my self-esteem. I envied Alana as she swam and found happiness within the water and sun. Alana’s mind was pure and not aware of the acidulous complex of being a dark skin female. She welcomed the sun on her little body with open arms as I grew restless and bitter. My aesthetic principles shorten pool time daily and advised us to move when our spot became un-shaded. The sun rays continued to affect Alana’s skin and I prayed for rain on her behalf and mine. The Lord heard my prayers but he sent my blessing in another form other than rain. Later in the week after pool time, I caught Alana staring in the mirror. Her head was tilted to the side, while her eyes scanned the dark reflection. She moved her hands along her body securing physically that her skin had in fact gotten darker and would not rub off. I stood there empathizing with her and wishing I had applied another coat of sunscreen to her petite body. Alana turned and faced me with a glowing smile that shined against her chocolate complexion. Her smile was not of resentment but of happiness. “I’m getting closer to having skin like yours and being pretty like you” were the next words accompanied by her large smile. I took a breath deep enough to fill an abyss, wrapped my arms around her, hugging her tight, and thanking her for showing me a world outside my contorted mind.