By: Beverly Osazuwa
Sometimes my black is not beautiful. Sometimes my black is heinous. My black can be pain, it can be rage, it can be the ugly cloud of thoughts, feelings, and harsh realities that follows me. My black can be an open wound but over time, even wounds heal, and although there remains a scar, there is renewal.
I swear this is not a tangent of self-hate, because yes, I am beautiful and my melanin emphasizes the wonder of my spirit. However, I do not think my black was meant to be a trophy, to be shined and seen in the best of lights. I want more than #MelaninMonday or #MyBlackIsBeautiful hashtags because it is more than simply “beautiful.”
For myself, it is the dark and light of the world. Within this complexion, there is hurting and there is magnificence in a communal experience that spreads across oceans. My black experience is as diverse as the shades that fall within it, and to me, beautiful is just not enough.
I understand and appreciate the campaigns of inner beauty, and cannot stress the importance of loving yourself, but at the same time, in order to love yourself, you must accept who you are. You must accept the good, as well as the bad and I think we often choose to forget the latter.
We want to forget the times we cried ourselves to sleep because that person you had a crush on said they didn’t like black girls.We want to forget the hours spent straightening or relaxing our hair to fit in. We want to forget all the hatred so we can join the ranks of the few melanin beauties we see on social media and television. Yet those were steps in our overall progression as a people.
There is not a day that goes by where I do not spot photos of Naomi Campbell or Chanel Iman upon my twitter timeline, or even Lupita Nyong’o gifs on tumblr with cute captions and user comments on the nobility that flows through my veins. Poetic in nature, these words leave the imprint of a kind of “black perfection” which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I feel is unrealistic.
There is so much more to my beauty than whether my eyebrows are on fleek and how bright my neon bikini is. Yes, I want representation in all forms of media, and we are slowly getting that, but I also want a realistic depiction of what the black experience is!
I want the pain, the agony, and the hurt that comes from it to be brought in to the light. I want more than a hashtag bowing down to my complexion because it is the baggage of the journey that grants its beauty.
The strength of the black community is second to none, and despite how eager we are to forget the bad, it is necessary to accept in order to achieve wholeness. I cannot be solely good, nor bad. I am a combination of both, and my past is a representation of that.
I am diverse. I am a range of thoughts and feelings. Sometimes I am as flawless as Beyonce and have no problem strutting down the street like Tyra Banks while other times, I just want to curl up in my bed and cry. I may travel between the two emotions, but I need that moment. I need the time to just breakdown and let everything, literally everything, just hit me.
I need the time to feel reality at its worst. If not, how else can I, or anyone else for that matter, understand what it means to be black?
My black is not always beautiful.Sometimes it spears me so deeply.However my black is not always painful. Sometimes it is the very source of my joy. The range of the black experience goes so much farther than the trend of an aesthetic. To my community, I remind that the scars of the past heal over time and to heal we must accept. We must accept the good and the bad of “blackness” and life that it has given us. My black experience is my human experience, and it goes as far as I am willing to let it.