04 Nov Hey Black Girl, You Deserve To Be Seen
From Sorella Magazine
This thought-provoking essay on colorism and identity comes from the publication Sorella Magazine aptly titled: Words From A Black Girl Who Used To Wish She Were White.
DEAR BLACK GIRL,
It’s not easy being you. Trust me, I know, because it’s not easy being me. I haven’t spent a second in your shoes, and you probably couldn’t even pick me out of a crowd, though someone somewhere might mistake us for sisters. And they wouldn’t be too far off.
As Black women, we share the same essence—the same experience of navigating through a world where whiteness and proximity to whiteness is everything. And our plump lips, textured, type 4 hair and curvy figures make it clear that we are anything but white.
Being a Black girl is not just a slight inconvenience or emotional drain. It’s not just the painful fact of never seeing yourself reflected positively in the media that so heavily shapes our day-to-day lives. In today’s world, being a Black woman comes with infinitely more risks than living as a White or Asian woman, or a woman of another race.
The way Black women are negatively perceived in the media works to tell us that we’re not good enough. It tells us that our features and our hair and our bodies will always pale in comparison to the Beckys of the world.
Hearing this on a daily basis can wreak havoc on our mental health and self-worth. Yet, Black women are still expected to “come out on top” despite navigating through this every. single. day.
We don’t talk about self-hate nearly enough in the Black community. We prefer to sweep our self-hate under the rug and hide it under our suits of protective armor and “pro-Black” talk.
As a result, many of us are walking around drowning in bubbles of despair and self-loathing. And then we feel ashamed to admit that sometimes we wish we’d been born anything other than what we are: a Black woman—the lowest of the lowest in modern society.
If we were honest about it, it wouldn’t be hard to admit we still struggle to like what we see in the mirror. I know I do. Yet, silently, with anguish and in thinly veiled desperation, we struggle.
The first time I hated my skin color was when I was eleven and I was watching a Tyra Banks episode on colorism. Prior to that moment, it had never occurred to me that there was a difference between lighter-skinned Blacks and darker-skinned ones.
I rushed to the mirror to check which one I was (light skin or dark skin) and was met with disappointment upon discovering I was the latter. I was the complexion that people didn’t like. The one that meant I’d be picked last for prom, chosen last by Black men and men of other races, and generally undervalued in society.
For the eleven-year-old me who wanted to be a star, this news was especially disheartening. It didn’t mean the end of my singing career; it only meant I was going to have to work extra hard just to get half of the credit that (I thought) I deserved.