The Myth of Dark Skin Shame

When I took these pictures, I was told that I should use them to talk about my struggle growing up in suburban America with dark skin. But the real fact is this: I didn’t struggle with it. In fact, I’ve never had any inferiority complexes when it came to my rich melanin. To automatically assume that someone with beautiful mahogany skin had to “come to grips” with the skin that they are literally in befuddled me. In fact, I was incensed.

News flash: not all people who possess darker pigmented skin undergo some sort of rite of passage to be comfortable with their deep melanin. Moreover, not all of us envied lighter skin and coveted being light skin. I grew up in Washington, DC which ironically had the nickname “Chocolate City”. With this being said, I was born into a city that was known to boast a large base of people from Afro-Caribbean geographies-to include myself. Add this to the fact that I hail from a family who has always been deeply rooted in the revolution and not only pushed pro-blackness unapologetically but also instilled pride in melanin. Being the youngest of five children, I loved the fact that my siblings and I had different shades of black gold which spoke to the fact that Black is beautiful in every shade. We were never told not to go out in the sun because we’d get too dark. We were never rushed out of the swimming pool prematurely before the sun baked us too dark. We never had bad spells spoken over us to make us self-conscious of our melanin by our parents who may have heard the same words from their parents. Even when I grew up and reached dating age; I always attracted suitors who not only loved melanated skin but also praised me on mine. I in turn love me a chocolatey man, which in kind debunks the thought that darker skinned folks are only attracted to people with lighter color in hopes to dilute their phenotypes amongst their offspring.

Even when my family moved to cities that were melanin-deficit; I still never struggled with it. In fact, it was I who marveled at my white classmates who’d go through the motions of spray tan products and would spends hours in the sun to perfect a deep brown glow. A glow that I was blessed with at conception. A shade that I excitedly see turn even browner in the summer months or when I go to Jamaica to visit friends and family. Another newsflash: I was never teased about my skin. Probably because I wore my melanin as a badge of honor and saw it as a privilege. Today, I still wear that badge proudly. In fact, I formulated a brand in honor of it: Black Sauce ( My Black Sauce brand not only has apparel and accessories that speak to Black Pride but it also boasts a natural skin care line dedicated for us. My all natural Black Gold Hair & Body oil consists of a plethora of raw organic oils that I concoct to bottle Black magic.

With this being said, please note that not all people with deep melanin have struggled with skin acceptance. Not all of us had to go through an “awakening phase” because we were born Woke. In that same vein, not all of us have ever coveted being something that we aren’t.  Not all of us allow the laws of colorism make us feel inferior. Not all of us are against dating people who look just like us. Not all of us run from the sun. Not all of us see dark skin as a badge of shame. In fact, we are the ones who see it for what it is: a badge of honor. We also revel in the fact that the sun decided to kiss us twice. So the next time you see someone with dark skin, please refrain from writing a story of pity for them that they have no page of history on. Bless up.

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