For the longest time, I was actually ashamed to be black. In fact, I used to hate myself for it. It was so hard growing up in such a mainstream white society and global network that I barely ever found things which were relatable to me. I used to hate the fact that my hair was so kinky, wild, and untamed, that I had to use twice as much as sunscreen on my skin.
I grew up watching these classically westernized shows and movies which I loved, don't get me wrong, but never truly related to. I sometimes look back on some of these shows, and I’ve realized that very few series actually casted young black people in the main cast—even more so, young black women. I never had that character I truly could portray or enjoy being when I escaped into my imagination with my friends when I was little.
I just felt misplaced, and from conversations I've had with my black friends and my family, I’ve found that we all feel the same way.
Black, in reference to either the mere color or as a label for dark-skinned people, has always carried negative connotations:
The list could go on and on. And because of this, anything 'black' just oozes bad news. Whenever you hear of a robbery, killing, or shooting, the immediate thought is ‘a black person did it.’ People think we're overly loud, wild, and crazy, and make these sound like terrible attributes. They curse us for our voluptuous bodies and fashion choices, yet reap them like sheep to use as trends, appropriating what our black stands for.
My mom, a brilliant black women with a strong mind and soul, grew up in the rural areas of Zimbabwe. She was the fifth out of seven kids to my grandparents—five girls, two boys. My grandmother, her mom, was such a strict woman. She demanded nothing but the best from them. They were taught to be clean and responsible. They never had opportunities to try any extracurricular activities, because the only thing that they grew up knowing was that in this life, nothing is fair when you're dark-skinned, and education was the only route towards proving your worth in society. Every afternoon, my mom and her siblings would cook, clean, and wash while studying till the early hours of the morning because a B wasn't good enough in their mother’s eyes. Discipline was nothing short of a daily dosage in their household.
My mother, Busiso Nkomo.
My mom was top of her class, and because of this, she had the opportunity to study in Australia on a full scholarship. Everything was paid for, she just had to maintain her grades, which she knew she could do. But that still wasn't enough to give her a place in society. She was an outcast, made to feel inferior because being a black woman from Zimbabwe wasn't an achievement, it was a charity case. She was never seen as an intellectual equal.
She was the only black child in her class, and her lecturer would never once let her forget it.
After my mom told me all these stories, I felt both inspired and angry all at once. I was inspired by her ability to have come from such a poor background yet still be able to give me and my brother this incredible lifestyle in which I'm able to blog and write and post online. But I was angry at the fact that hatred solely founded on differences in complexion existed. Today, I use technology, sleep in a bed, and go to one of the best schools in my country because she and my dad made so much of themselves in a world where odds were against them because of the color of their skin.
I know my parents aren't the only ones who have been a part of the social change that's happened in the past to get us all to where we are today.
Racial justice has caused a radical change in our global society. Our heritage and roles in our communities have been uplifted and recognized as equal. We have black people in our justice systems, governments, and educational departments still fighting for our place in this world.
Yet sometimes it still feels like it isn’t enough. We're fighting against the law for our fallen brothers and sisters. #BlackLivesMatter has become our pillar of strength and refuge in this world that's still trying to tear us down. Our 'overly loud' voices have become our source of power in calling for change and continuing to fight.
We're Pretty Period
STOP TRYING TO MELLOW MY MELANIN.
We are Golden. Sunkissed.
God, I love being black.
Our skin is so golden and tender and smooth. No matter what shade or texture, it shines and glows. Our hair, in all its splendor, is fruitful and beautiful. We've started realizing just how important we are and how much love we deserve. We've built this family that extends across the oceans. Campaigns, shows, movies, and music have been developed to promote our black culture and to teach each other to love who we are in all our glorious blackness.
My black matters because I am a part of this revolutionary march that stands for equality.
There is no set guide to being black. There is no distinction in our personalities that defines our race. The hues of our complexions extend from our diverse backgrounds and are what make us unique. We embrace the unparalleled exoticness of our melanin.
I am beautiful because I love my dark skin.
I am capable of anything, regardless of my upbringing.
My beauty cannot be justified nor compared, because my black matters and differs.
I will not allow unjustified social bigotry to stop me from changing lives, achieving my goals, and loving myself, my race, and my people.
Little black girls, love yourself. Give yourself the love you truly deserve. Support your sisters. The beautiful women around you—give them love. Because no one understands you more than they do.
My black life will forever and always matter.