As a teenager, my mom often discussed the Black History books she read like W. E. B. Du Bois, Shirley Chisholm, and the like. Black History Books? No, momma, I would say, I want to read the Harlequin romances with the happy endings. I was such a romantic. I wanted to be loved thoroughly and completely.
I heard Momma but I wasn’t listening. I couldn’t relate to those stories. Not because I didn’t share in the Black experience in America, but because I had no clue who I was or where I fit in. There were many reasons for that though!
I didn’t know my biological father. He actually tried to kill me and my mother by multiple stabbings while I was in her womb. I was born the night of that tragedy. I was rejected and repeatedly sexually abused and as I matured, all the residual effects of that shaped me.
Colorism in the Black Community
I was rejected in the Black community, called “White girl” by some family and people in the community. When I attended school, I was rejected because of my lighter skin color. I was a fighter, because people always tried me. “You think you cute!” is what I heard throughout my school days. It was bad. I wanted darker skin. I was tired of being picked on. I wasn’t “Black enough.” Babies are just born. They don’t choose their color, so self-hate in the same culture is stupid to me. We are one people.
Colorism is a big deal in the Black community, and that is by design set in motion hundreds of years ago. Read this article for more information.
Black is Beautiful
I love being Black because of the strength, courage, wisdom, love, and resilience that I inherited from my history. Yet this awareness and love of self and community came later. During my younger years, none of this penetrated my head or heart on a consistent basis.
Black is Beautiful. We made major contributions in building America, before and after slavery. In his new book, Workers on Arrival, the historian Joe William Trotter Jr. shows that the history of black labor in the United States is thus essential not only to understanding American racism but also to “any discussion of the nation’s productivity, politics, and the future of work in today’s global economy.” (click for full article)
There is so much significance placed in Black History and Black greatness. Black history is used to commemorate all individuals who are endeavoring to be the best version of themselves. I’m certain that no matter what a person chooses to do with their life, just living as a Black person is greatness, at least that was my mom’s perspective. 🙂
We have been oppressed for hundreds of years. I feel like the tide is turning. There is a shift. I know that peace won’t come upon this world until Jesus comes, and even then there’s Armageddon before the peace of His 1,000 year reign, but I digress.
It’s important for us to have pride in our race, loving ourselves. Positive affirmations towards our culture, takes nothing away from other cultures.
“Momma, I get it now.”
While my mom was wrapping her afro up in designer head-wraps, I was gluing in human hair pieces bought from the local beauty supply. I didn’t see the beauty in my kinks at that time. I saw it as a hindrance to moving forward corporately and relationally. It stood out like a sore thumb and at that time, I wanted to work in administration in a big corporation.
Mom was meticulous, taking her time to tuck every piece until it was a masterpiece. In my younger days, this was her style of choice. My mother was beautiful and I loved her mind and heart most of all.
I think of my Momma as I look at my micro locks. It’s been almost a year of me locking my hair and I must say, “Momma, I get it now. I really do get it.”
I feel like I found me. My locks feel like home. So many are surprised that I haven’t changed my hair. LOL My husband remarked just the other day, that he was surprised I kept a style so long. My eldest daughter, co-signed.
Smiling, “This isn’t a ‘style,’ this is me.” I replied to them both.
After years of running and searching for identity, my identity was waiting to reveal itself when it was within me, waiting for the right conditions, heart, and mind. But the journey to finding me is more than my hair. My hair was the cherry on top. The cake is my salvation and renewed mind. Glory to God!
You see, many times, life’s experiences will shape and mold us into who we are. We don’t know right off. We know what people called us and what we called ourselves based on environment and experiences. I feel proud to be a Black woman. Proud to be comfortable in my skin. Proud to wear my natural hair. Proud because I see the beauty in my race and culture. People ask what culture? Black American culture, that’s what it is! We have our way of doing things that are unique to us.
I love us. I love me.
I remember working as an escort and the great lengths the Black women went through to look “Exotic” and “Mixed.” (Me included) Why wasn’t Black good enough? It was everywhere blaring at us to conform. The magazines, and the television showed us that European Beauty was sought after and preferred.
While growing up, my mother always made sure I knew that I was beautiful and to never doubt that, but I internalized every word of critique and form of rejection. I heard her, but the healing and acceptance that would later be my portion, but not ready to manifest.
Today, I speak highly of us as a people to myself, others, and most of all, my children. Their identity is important. They must know God and love Him and love themselves how He created them. I speak in a language my children can receive. If it doesn’t resonate now, it will sink in one day. The most important nugget I want them to glean is that they are worthy, their lives matter, and they are made in the image of the Most High God. My children are beautiful, not like anyone else but themselves.
No! I didn’t want to read those books as a teenager, but I relish our unique stories today. Identity or lack, therefore, is a major catalyst to frustration and stagnation. Many don’t move because they don’t understand their purpose and how their past propels them into purpose.
I even changed my Publishing Company’s business model to showcase our stories; Stories of triumph, overcoming, and motivation. I value our voices. I want to be instrumental in helping to change the narrative for Black women. We will leave a literary legacy that can be passed on for generations, long after I am gone.
The word says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139) We are in His image and we aren’t a mistake. What’s unfortunate is the climate of superiority in the world. There is one race; the human race.
We have different cultures, yes. Skin tones and behaviors but we are all people. I love the different shades of Black people. I love the wonderful way we glow in the sun. I love how our hair can turn heads and how unique our curls are. Our hair can do things that no-one else can, that’s for sure!
Love yourself. Love your people. Love the Lord. There is no harm in that. Embrace yourself and your people. That can be done without degrading someone else.Tweet
Black love is fundamental to benefit our way of life. When we begin cherishing ourselves, we will no longer need others’ approval to feel substantial or commendable. Throughout history, Black people have had to bargain their identity and culture for endorsement, progression, and security. But that needs to stop. We are enough. We have value. We are necessary.
Nothing is wasted
I had to learn a lot, and I am still learning. We are fascinating people. I often ask God about us. We are amazing, I say to Him. You made us super creative, loyal, forgiving, and loving. Anyone can point out the negative, sure. But I have made it my mission to uplift my sisters through our shared stories by giving them a home to publish.
We have gone through and come out on the other side. We who are walking free will share our testimonies and help our sisters heal and be free. I stand on Revelation 12:11. My testimony is not my own, neither is yours. God has dealt with me extensively the last few years concerning my hair. I wrote another post about that here. God did it for a reason. He had to break off so many limited beliefs that I had about myself and my identity.
In closing, God speaks to us all differently. He was preparing me to be in the place I am and also where I am going. I am obedient to the Holy Spirit, even with locking my hair and with my business practices. There is still much to learn, but I am certainly enjoying my journey, the lessons, and blessings.
I was stripped naked, broken gracefully, for Him to put me back together and make me fit for the Masters use. Absolutely nothing was wasted in my life, neither is it in yours.
One thing for sure, He knows the plans He has for us, and I am here for it!
What are your thoughts? I invite you to comment and please share this.