You’re not Black You’re not White, You’re Just Confused.
You said this to me 10 years ago. I was 15 years of age, yet you made this foolish statement in front of our fellow classmates. You called out to me and said, “come over here for a minute.” I walked over, without knowing you were about to humiliate me in front of everyone. I didn’t realise I would soon hear their laughter as you said, “You’re not black, you’re not white, you’re just confused.”
You then turned away from me, and carried on having a debate about “light-skin.” I walked away, angry and frustrated. I went home and I remember asking my Mum, “why did you decide to marry someone out of your race?! You have made my life so hard! Girls hate me on the basis of my skin.”
I was a very shy school girl, naive in nature, and I tried my best to not surround myself with negative classmates. Stereotypes always floated around of the lighter skinned woman and I didn’t want to be prejudged in such a way. I felt pressured in a sense of always been cornered and judged, even by so-called friends who would say, “You think you’re so nice, you think because you have black in you that you’re the business, you think you can get away with everything, you think….you think…” but no I didn’t. YOU THOUGHT.
I was raised predominately surrounded by my Irish family; my Dad being the only Caribbean relative that I knew. I self taught myself about my Caribbean heritage, and I am thankful to have had great friends with supportive families who built me culturally so there was no confusion as to who I was then, or who I am now. That being said, I know this to be true: what you said was nothing but you projecting your own insecurities. However, to be honest i don’t blame you, nor should you feel a way towards me. I cant help the colour of my skin, I didn’t ask to be the light skin.
I know you didn’t choose to be ignorant; I know your prejudice was deeply engrained in you. Having worked in teaching for two years, I thought of you. A child of only 5 years old said to my colleague, “Sir, you must marry a white woman to have mixed race babies as they’re most beautiful.”
This shocked him and he asked the child to come see me. She repeated what she said to me, and I asked, “why do you think we are more beautiful than you?”
She replied, “you have lighter skin then me, I hear my sisters talking about it all the time.”
This made me think of you, my classmate. Why? Because the remark you made about me was likely said through growing up being told the light skinned woman is superior to you and this is why you felt anger and hatred towards me.
I realised that this child was clearly not being surrounded by positive influences. Therefore I decided to do something. Everyday in the morning and after school as the child would walk past my classroom, I would call out and say, “who is beautiful?”
To this she would reply, “I am Miss Powderly,” and maybe that’s what you needed to hear, too.
We can’t rely on the MEDIA to portray every type of woman in a positive light. For that reason, we must all take responsibility in teaching our children the beauty of their self.
If we don’t cut the crap out of attacking one another, the longstanding divide between light skinned and dark skinned women with keep following generation after generation. Maybe, classmate, you – like this child – simply needed to be told you were beautiful. All I can hope is the days I spent with this child let her know she is just as beautiful as any light skinned woman she will ever come across, and that she won’t become bitter towards others due to the bad teachings around her at home.
Thank you classmate. You showed me why it is so important that every young girl sees themselves as valued. And just to clarify; I am Black AND White, and I’m far from confused.