Dark Like Us

When I was a little girl I was blissfully unaware that my skin tone was supposed to be a negative thing. In my eyes my skin was dark and comely, like that of the people I loved the most. I was dark like my Mama, who I idolized, watching with adoration as she lined her round dark eyes with kohl. I was dark like my father, his intense gaze looking back at me from his Marine portrait. And I was dark like my beloved Grandma, her skin so smooth and deep that it looked like that of someone from Southern Sudan; her face an image of perfection that never cracked. The love and loyalty given to me by my Mama and Grandma would cause me to link darkness to love, warmth and belonging. Years later those early childhood images would be replaced by the messages of internalized white supremacy. My love of my darkness would contort into shame, loathing and pain. I would have to fight valiantly to get back to the mentality I had as a child. I’m grateful to be there.

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