By: Nazirah Ahmad
At a young age in school, I was always attached to the description of “the whitest-black girl”. At 10 I moved from the city of Virginia to the country of North Carolina. Coming from a racially mixed school, to a predominately white middle school was extremely rough, in more ways than one. I quickly adapted, but not in a good way. Being an intelligent young girl, I spoke with correct grammar, often teased by my own black peers, “are you even black?”.
I even earned the nickname “Miss. Proper” because I didn’t speak like the other black kids. One day in the school bathroom I saw “no niggers allowed” written on the stall and was extremely afraid. I went home and told my mom. She spoke with the principal and the principal insisted that that negativity was not allowed at school and they only promoted a positive atmosphere on the campus.
I didn’t realize that I soon began to believe the words written on that bathroom stall and eventually transformed myself to fit in the crowd, ultimately adhering to the words on the bathroom stall.
I didn’t embrace my curls, I didn’t want my skin to become darker in the summer, I didn’t even categorize myself as black, referring to my own self as “the whitest-black girl”. For years I believed that I was a white girl on the inside of a black body. Having mainly white friends, I thought I needed to be more like them in order to be accepted.
Looking back on this I wish black beauty was pushed more and someone would’ve told me how absolutely ridiculous this mentality was. Trying so hard to be something I was not, I didn’t even realize the beautiful black princess I was. I believe going through this stage helped me to embrace my blackness more and showed me how fast society will engulf you if you let it.
But, as soon as I grew older and left the dogmatic mindset of that middle school, venturing into a racially mixed high school, I soon became aware that skin color is not an adjective and it is extremely important to embrace the attributes of a black woman. I finally left the negative feelings and thoughts of my own self image behind.
At a young age I began receiving relaxers, believing it was making me joyous, while it was only a safeguard. Exclaiming that “beauty hurt” while placing chemicals in my hair, only to mask the fear of my curls appearing and being called ugly. Making my naturally curly hair, bone straight made me fit in and look like my white friends and the girls on the magazine covers.
When I decided to go natural and all of my relaxer grew out I felt extremely beautiful. My mother began to tell me how beautiful my hair was and I even began to see my self confidence rise. It was not the physical relaxer leaving that ascended my self confidence, but the self apprehension exiting.
The sudden realization that I did not need to look a specific way to be beautiful helped me completely appreciate and finally accept my self worth. Being black is absolutely beautiful, the versatility of our hair, the many shades of our skin and all the attributes are amazing. We should teach our young ladies to embrace this.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting relaxers (sometimes I want to go back to one), however we should not chemicalize our hair to mask internal issues. Wear YOUR hair the way it makes YOU happy!
We must also learn to not compare ourselves with everyone else in the world because we were all made uniquely different. Yes, that’s very cliche but it’s the truth. Accepting the real you and the things that make you feel content are the only things that matter. If you feel that you are altering yourself or not embracing the exceptional aspects of yourself to fit in a certain crowd, it is not the crowd for you. Knowing your self worth and value is only the beginning to achieving self love.
In today’s society, people are going to tell you everything but how exceedingly valuable you are. So your happiness must come from within. We need to stop masking our fears and begin to love our astonishing individualism. Accept it, you’re a melanin poppin’ goddess!
No matter the curl of your hair, the shade of your skin, or how you pronounce your words, brown skin makes you beautiful and black. Do not be afraid to be yourself out of fear of being judged. You’ll be judged regardless, so give them something to talk about!