Bob Marley said, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery”. What a powerful statement, free your mind!
I’m a black woman, but have never seen myself as such. I always saw myself as a human being although sometimes being black and proud was very difficult for me. My fellow black people mocked me because of my very dark skin. I remember the time I was a teacher in Vereeniging, South Africa. Students, parents and staff members made fun of me because of my dark complexion. I’d catch people taking photos of me and I knew exactly why… To show their friends how dark this woman is. I went into depression and began to find solace in food. I wanted to commit suicide. Marriage was also bad, home was not my sanctuary. Work was horrible with all these nasty comments about my dark skin. One day, sitting in the car in town, minding my own business and one lady passed by and exclaimed, “Mme o mubi tjo!” ‘That woman is so ugly!’. It was the worst time of my life. I hated being in Vereeniging, when I lived in Johannesburg I never experienced any of that. I simply started hating being in South Africa. Eventually, I began entertaining thoughts of skin bleaching.
I tried so hard to ignore the nasty comments but, I failed to resist the temptation to bleach my skin. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I wanted to fit in. I became obese because I comforted myself with food. I just wanted to be left alone. I wanted to be accepted.
Sometime in 2014/5, I started using a bleaching cream. I became light in complexion. Unfortunately, it didn’t solve my problem but instead created yet a new problem. The same people who laughed at my dark skin started laughing at my light skin. They talked non-stop about how I’m becoming a yellow-bone. I got deeper into depression. I was constantly bombarded with questions, “What are you using on your skin? Are you bleaching?”
One of my friends in Zimbabwe one day sent me a message I will never forget, “If you are bleaching your skin, stop it right now. I love you the way you are.”
I AM FEARFULLY AND WONDERFULLY MADE
I realised that it wasn’t about pleasing people who don’t even care about me. Neither was it about pleasing people who cared about me. It wasn’t about anyone else but me. Do I love myself the way I am? Do I accept myself? Do I understand that God created me fearfully and wonderfully? That I am a peculiar treasure in his eyes. I looked myself in the mirror and decided to accept my dark skin and everything else. People will always have something to say, no matter what I do. If I’m dark, they talk. If I bleach, they talk. I needed to be comfortable in my own skin and ignore any other voice.
Today I am back to myself again, I’m talking about my mindset. I don’t see colour, I see people. And when they see colour in me, I choose to see myself the way I see others… As God’s creation. I’m unique, I’m me, proudly black.
I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Ké-dar, as the curtains of Solomon. Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me.Song of Solomon 1: 5,6a
I wrote Black and Proud during this period.