I had to take pause the other day and catch myself feeding into the negativity that permeates society and its perceptions of black girls. I am truthfully partial to dark skinned people. Their inky skin serves as a perfect backdrop for any color clothing under the sun. Their smiles leave me breathless. Strong, pearlized teeth anchoring smooth skin. I look at my brown paper bag arms and I have secretly yearned for skin that hides all imperfections and strike fear and lust or both in the hearts of men.
But waxing poetic about dark skin hasn’t kept me from making a faux pas in my approach to working with Black youth. I find myself emphasizing to my black girls that their dark beauty is to be envied. But for my Black boys–nothing. This omission has led me to admit to myself that society has already embraced the Black boy/man. Why don’t I spend equal time convincing the Black boy he is handsome? When women from other cultures hang on their arms like prized possessions, there’s no need to convince the Black man that he is beautiful. The white culture has already deemed him so. No added stamp of approval needed.
It is the dark-skinned Black girl who needs the convincing. She needs to be convinced that her natural curls don’t need to be straightened or brought under submission with some drug store product. She needs to be convinced that she can wear any color and that magenta, kiwi, or citron has never looked better on anyone else like it will look on her. She needs to be convinced that White America cannot and should not be her beauty litmus test. If her thighs scrub and she never sees a gap, oh well. If her nose flares when angered, such is life. If her brows grow thick and unruly, que sera, sera. If her wide set eyes seem a bit too intense, tough luck. How many times have I had to convince Black girl that her features will one day be the envy of others?! I keep a speech on repeat for those many times I have had to share this coming of age truth.
I’m guilty of going out of my way to remind my black girls that they are beautiful, that they matter. The bi-racial girl is a prized catch. The Latin girl is too. And need we say more about the white girl? But our black baby girl. She needs the constant reminders that her Black is truly Beautiful.
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalms 139:14
And can’t nobody tell me different.