Dear World, My Black is Beautiful.

I was a teenager when I realized the world thinks black people aren’t beautiful. Yeah, I said it. Just in case I lost you, allow me to reiterate, I was a teenager when I realized the world thinks black people aren’t beautiful. Surely, there is no other explanation why we’re not on… well, anything. There seems to be this mulatto image being pushed on the general public. Now, don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against those African-Americans. I feel quite certain to hate them would be to begrudge myself. However, as the general public has seen and lived amongst us, it is aware we come in many shades with different hairstyles and rarely are our eyes any shade besides brown.


I begin to wonder where this propagation of vanilla, naturally long & curly haired, hazel eyed black beauty stems from. I often think if I open up one more magazine or catalog and see one, I’ll shoot myself. I’m positive if one more movie comes out with the SAME black actors, I’ll scream. I can not list all of the white actors as it will take eons but am sadly aware I could list the African-Americans within a single paragraph- easily. One has only to list the cast from black and white American films from the past 10 years and you’d be done within that lonely ass one paragraph. They are recycled over and over again. Though I know those roles are hard won for them, I can’t help my feelings. White actors live in a competitive field. Black ones do not. They are guaranteed movies every year as the same are used. They strike gold once they’re put into white rotation. Take Taraji Henson for example, every black person who has seen a movie since 2000 knows exactly who she is. When “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” came out web searches across America buzzed ‘Who is Taraji Henson?’ or my favorite, ‘Is she new? ‘ . America, bless your silly little hearts…

Black people, rich or poor, live in virtual obscurity if we’re not in their films, an athlete, or one of Oprah’s friends. Blacks with fair complexions are cast as intelligent, trustworthy, articulate, and polished with a background similar to whites. The darker our skin is in media, the more likely we are to be violent, buffoonish, promiscuous, bitchy, or barbaric. Since the majority of the white race does not integrate with us outside the workplace, this is what they know of us. This lack of diversity is showing up in magazines, on TV, and in the media year after year. Therefore we are misrepresented and stereotyped. Only the “good ones” can be in print unless you’re Alek Wek… who often gives me the inkling her appeal is her blackness (but as an oddity [see Sara Baartman], not as the beautiful person she is). Tyra Banks had to fight her curves as a model. There are different ways to paperbag us. The new degradation isn’t as blatant but it is there in weight and measurement requiems that most blacks would never mold to. Many of them who would tell you the truths of auditioning and hearing flat out:

Your lips are too big
Your butt is too big
Your nose is too wide
Your hips are too wide
Your hair is too kinky
Your skin is too dark

In short, they are too black. I’ve read too many articles and seen numerous interviews and personally heard those words spoken. You must watch ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ or Dorothy Dandridge‘s Biography to hear what a lack of tough skin will do to a black professional in the industry or in life. And if you think that happened years ago, I suggest you hang yourself. One less idiot is good for the world. I urge that you smash your rose colored glasses beforehand; we wouldn’t want to afflict others with a naivety that wounds… We often learn the hard way in White America to water down our blackness. Don’t bring your blackness to work or school. The most common myth is we put on blackface to make it in the world.

The truth is we’ve been beaten by life and lived through it- the heartaches, the pain, the disappointments, the accomplishments, the achievements, and joy. We’ve weathered storms together and individually. So when we see each other on the street we say hi. Strangers yet intimate friends because our stories are the same. We are survivors. We are soldiers who have fought the same battles and life athletes who have jumped the same hurdles. We say hi. We say hello. I’m glad you’ve made it. I’m glad we’ve made it. Look at us now. We’re alive.

We areW Phoenix rising from the Ashes.
We ARE Phoenix rising from the Ashes.

We put on blackface to make others more comfortable. It’s not for us at all.

I have been broken. I have starved. I have been impoverished and I’m still here, still standing. Now how confident do you think I must be to have that knowledge, to know when tested and backed into a corner, I will be fine? I can do anything. I can be anything. I can make three weeks of groceries from twenty dollars. I can make a quarter tank of gas last for weeks. I can make a dollar out of .49 all day, every day making do and I know it. I’m aware. So we must stifle our inner light and confidence so others can feel better with their insecurities because most will never have the magic of coming from nothing and making something of themselves. For each time we’ve let our light shine, we instantly realized how much it intimidated others. They wonder how can we be so confident, so sure when we have nothing?

We have ourselves….

I was a teenager when I realized the world thinks black people aren’t beautiful. I was an adult when I realized being “too” black wasn’t beautiful. To be too ethnic is foreign, i.e. scary. Monsters are scary. Hideous things are as well. Ugly is scary and hard to look at. Black people are hard to look at. Our faces can be harsh reminders. We reflect an ugliness they have in their character and history. We challenge them and the natural, ingrained fears they have of us and it makes them self conscious. They are sure we must hate them. deep down They do not know we forgave them. We had to, to forgive ourselves and live and exist. No one can find happiness with a bitter heart. We are the perpetual “Great” mystery…. Most fear the unknown, so I must see Alex Haley’s Queen in my magazines or Imitation of Life’s Sarah Jane in the media.

This is painful because I’m a Kizzie or Ms. Annie.

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