September 16, 2016

This Is How I Feel About Being Black Or Brown Or Tan Or Whatever I Am

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I guess it’s time that I talk about being black, brown, tan, whatever I am.

There isn’t much to say from my point of view. I could rave about the struggle and the history of oppression the black community has faced for decades. But it would only be repeating what I’ve read and heard in some words I’ve arranged together. However, my story isn’t so overwhelming.

So far, I haven’t experienced many quarrels about being black. At least they haven’t gotten to me, because I know that some people are mind-icapped when it comes to forms of beauty, and frankly, I don’t care. I’ve always had a decent self-image.

I was around 6 or 7 when I got a glimpse of what it meant to be me, a person, who happens to be a black girl.

Of course, it revolved around my hair. Hair is a big deal in the black community, literally and figuratively. It seems now that the grade of hair means more for your “status” than the shade of your skin. I wanted my hair to be as straight as the white girls, and my hair was like, “Uhm… lol nah girl.” I told my mom this and she tried her best to help me to understand that different hair types are, well, different. She straightened it and I still wasn’t satisfied, I wanted what I wanted. Years later, I got that in a white creamy chemical paste that I had spread on my scalp every 6-12 weeks. But we’ll get to that later.

The best way to describe my black experience is feeling very neutral. Very in the middle of things, with occasional shoots of “stereotypical black.” I don’t like this, because who are we to say what is black and what is white? It’s all very dumb and limiting. But I’ve always felt in the middle. You know, too black for the white kids but too white for the black kids blah blah blah. Tan. Neutral.

But when I’m in the mood, I do love watermelon and don’t even get me started on how at home I feel when I listen to Motown. But who am I to assume that I’m the only person who feels this way? Color has little to do with this. Exposure, though, makes a difference. Think not of color, but of exposure, the amount of light, ideas that you let in. This is what has put me in the middle. But I would say the middle is a beautiful place to be. Because you get the best of everything, and somehow, after being an outcast for a while, you earn the right to call it your own.

There are struggles though. But I don’t attribute these to my blackness entirely.

Sometimes I wish I looked more “effortless, dainty, ethereal,” and when I think of these words I think of girls who don’t really look like me. And the media is to blame for that of course. Because we’re all fed images that make up our ideas, especially in this age where everything is so accessible. A blessing and a curse curse curse. Black girls get words like “strong, sexy, curvy, sassy.” But to be honest, I rarely ever feel any of those words ever. I literally have the build of a tall 6-year-old boy (with a little bit of a booty). So after while, I’ve learned, you just gotta make your own words. And everyone has theirs.

So back to the hair thing…after conforming to the standard of beauty I was used to (and I really did enjoy it so I’m not even bitter), I decided I was just bored of straight hair. I wanted to see what my hair wanted to do, because honestly I didn’t remember. So I stopped with the chemical straighteners and decided to embrace my hair. I went natural because I wanted to be all of me. Like, the entire me, I was born this way type thing. And I don’t regret it. Yeah I go through phases when I’m like “ugh I just want to wear a sleek ponytail right now and flip my hair” but when I wear my big hair and it looks really good, it feels realllllly good. Because I know this is what I look like. This is one of the best versions of me completely.

Basically it would be great if our mental images were all our own and people were still blue and yellow in our drawings and words belonged to everyone. It can cause frustration sometimes. But all I have to do is step back, look at myself, and remember that I have my own thing going, just like the next person. And they can’t make my thing go and I can’t make theirs. Imitation isn’t as beautiful as embracing. And I try to remind myself that I have everything I admire already in me, in my own form. Being black/brown/tan/in the middle isn’t hard, just like having a name that starts with C isn’t. Being prejudged and mistyped, or typed at all, is. And everyone has to face that if they are a person at all. But one of my favorite things about being tan, is the look on people’s face when they have no clue what box to put me in. TC mark

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