The Skin I’m In

Whether you like to admit it or not, America constantly weighs a person’s worthiness on what the person looks like. Asian people are always “smarter” than the rest of us–even white people. Hispanic people who come from certain Latin countries are esteemed more highly than others. Lighter skinned African Americans who show signs of whiteness or other in their lineage are deemed prettier, more cultured, and of higher quality.

The darker you are, the more negative the narrative becomes.

With that negative narrative comes the fight of hundreds of years: uprisings, marches, protests, riots, speeches, boycotts, books, articles, interviews, die-ins, sit-ins, and situations–all designed to say that I (a Black person) matter as A PERSON. That my value does not diminish as my hue deepens to tan to brown to chocolate to eight-rock. That my children’s innocence does not dissipate faster, making them more mature or capable of adult misdeeds. That my sexuality as a woman is not somehow less deserving of respect and protection from exploitation. That the men who share my makeup are not more criminal and less capable or more dangerous and less intelligent.

We protest for understanding and acceptance.

But let’s think for a minute: if the construct of race were somehow eliminated from human consciousness, what would be left? Toni Morrison put it best in this clip from an interview on Charlie Rose:

When you strip away the privilege of whiteness (one bought by years of oppressing and building off the backs of others) or the burden of blackness (the heritage of being oppressed and vilified), what do YOU as an individual have left?

And that is the thought that the black community must embrace once again.

My dear hearts, there is nothing wrong with you or your brothers and sisters. There is something wrong with those whose need to feel superior comes at the cost of other people’s lives, but it us not your burden to bear. And while it is necessary for them to recognize their own wrong in order for this country to truly be the land of the free, it is more important that you remember to understand and accept yourself. Stop focusing on what “they” are doing to you and focus on you and your community. You are not responsible for the failures of a society that chooses to use you and abuse your love; but you are responsible for being your best self and teaching the next generation to do the same–race and racism be damned.

Amen? Amen.

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