This was originally posted on Let Your Voice Be Heard’s Website.
I used to be afraid of my blackness.
Did I say afraid?
Ok, let’s start over.
I used to be ashamed of my blackness. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I used to hate my blackness. Ahh, there it is, the honest truth. I hated myself for being black, and I hated blackness.
There was a time when I would look in the mirror and feel so dejected. I was ugly, my big nose and round eyes were problematic, but the most troubling trait was my skin. I was so ashamed of my black skin, and everything it represented or at least what I thought that representation meant. I thought it was the color of ghetto, violence, ignorance, slavery, failure, laziness and weakness. Black people were weak, and lazy, and I hated that I was a part of this. The darkness of my skin made me a card carrying member of the world’s problem children. But I didn’t want to be the problem child, why couldn’t I have a choice?
I wanted to prove that I was better than the people around me so I started to resent who and what I was. When all you ever see and all that is ever said are negative things about the people who look and sound like you, how could you ever be proud of that? I wasn’t, so I started to separate myself. I wanted to be white. Whiteness was the only way to achieve equality, it was the only way to be seen through a lens that I thought was fair. So I started off with little things. I tried to learn the mannerisms of Zach Morris, looked for ways to make my hair straighter and softer, and kept my distance from darker skinned people. There weren’t any white girls in East New York, Brooklyn when I was growing up, so I would only date very fair-skinned black and Spanish girls with blonde hair.
I started putting bleach in the tub when I showered. I would scrub the rag against my skin with the hope that the blackness would magically fade away, but it wouldn’t.
When that didn’t work, I started putting bleach in the tub when I showered. I would scrub the rag against my skin with the hope that the blackness would magically fade away, but it wouldn’t. As hard as I tried and badly as I wanted it, I couldn’t get rid of my black skin. So I did the next best thing — embraced everything I thought was white, and rejected all things black.
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I would look down on people who looked just like me. I was someone who would have defended George Zimmerman for killing Trayvon Martin, called Mike Brown a thug, and even supported a Donald Trump presidency. The ultimate high was to get white approval, so I spent countless days trying to convince them that I was one of the “good ones.” I would laugh at black jokes, and cosign white friends who thought black people should get over slavery. I don’t think many people understand how deep this kind of self-hate goes. I was so disgusted with my blackness that I was willing to wash away everything that I had ever known and loved all for the sake of getting a seat at the table to be the token black guy, to be tolerated, or, if I was lucky enough, liked.
So yeah, I used to be afraid of my blackness, and I did everything I could to run away from it. But as some smart person, from some good book or a shitty movie remake once said, “no matter where you go, there you are.”
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I can’t tell you when the switch flipped. I just know that one day I saw the error of my ways. The transition wasn’t instant, and it damn sure isn’t complete. Sometimes I still get that sinking feeling in my stomach — the fear that my life will never be good, that I will always be broken because of my blackness. But at least now I know that is a lie, as well as the elements that influenced these negative feelings.
I can’t believe how much I hated me, I can’t believe that much hatred existed, but it did, and as much as I have grown to love myself, it will always be a part of me.
I used to hate my blackness, but now I adore it, mine and yours.
Image Credit: I Hate Being Black