The Skin were In
My core shook, hearing that Little wanted to change his beautiful brown skin to be a lighter brown. I was frozen in the middle of a local grocery store, as my mom outlined the gut-wrenching discussion, which led to my youngest king expressing his uncertainty of what makes him unique. The new lens, he was looking through, highlighted differences within his family, friend group, and in his community. The different shades of melanin which makes us as a people beautiful.
He now wanted answers, answers as to why he was not the same color of his brother or his cousins, why he didn’t have any other friends that looked like him, why he didn’t have any other “chocolate” boys in his class? He was seeking to understand the answers of genetics, the answers of why he was a different shade of brown.
The tears began to run down his cheeks, my jaw trembled as I fought to let the tears that were wailing up in my eyes not drop, as he asked why? He explained, “he felt weird.” He felt weird because we (our immediate family) all looked different, as his voice shook, and his eyes pierced through my heart with worry and wonder, he asked a series of questions that he had been bottling up. He then ended with, “I just want to look like Hezekiah, I want to be like my brother.” I wanted to react with something profound, I wanted to interrupt but, I had no words, I was speechless.
My mind raced, as my brain began to search every counseling category, I had stored in my brain, and it led me back to a phrase I heard growing up, “the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice.” However, this was not going to work for him, or even our little family. Little wouldn’t even understand that concept, he hates berries. To be honest, I don’t think anyone knows what that truly means and its effects on our young black children. Especially having another king who is lighter. I wanted them to both understand that they were created to be different because, God made them that way. They need to understand, one is not better than the other. That they are “Fearfully and wonderfully made (previous post, check it out).”
I was hopeless, as he was gazing into my eyes for answers. The first thing that came to my mind was, “do you feel like you are beautiful?” If you know my children you know that they are confident individuals but, in that moment, I was scared to hear his answer he seemed unsure about everything that we had instilled in him. He answered like always, instantly, “yes! I know people love my skin color and my hair.” I mean I was relieved but, knew this was deeper than did he love himself. This was deeply embedded in this young king from somewhere and this is where I began to become angry. Tears were now streaming down both of our eyes. I began to reach back and just discuss slavery (some may think he is too young, but what would you have done?), and beautiful black men that wish they looked like him and sharing my blog specifically “Sweet treats and Colorists.” By the time I was finished he was shocked, cracking up, and running out of my room to put lotion on to “protect his chocolate.”
This was challenging, this hurt me to the depths of my soul. This made me go into protect mode. To protect the individual, he is in this world. This lens had come from somewhere and it was not the love that we share in my home. We are different, we are unique, and we are all beautiful no matter the shade. I will make it my mission to ensure he sees himself-daily through his relationships, so he can see the beauty of our people. As a people, I challenge you to uplift our black children, to commit to loving ourselves enough that we take pride in the skin we are in, that when we are speaking about our past experiences we come from a place of peace and growth, that we share stories of love not from a place of hurt and pain for the shade of your skin but, from a place of overcoming. Our children deserve it, and my kings will get it by any means necessary.