The rains came pouring down in Virginia yesterday. This happened just before I left work. I ran all the way to the metro only barely managing to keep from getting soaked.
I emerged on the Maryland end of my commute greeted by the sun and humidity. It had rained there too, just not nearly as much as it had in Virginia. As I walked to my bus terminal a sparkle caught my eye– something glistening and shiny like an expensive, shimmery jewel. I look up to see just an ordinary black man, lanky in his white t-shirt and jeans, his long dreaded hair pulled back at the nape of his neck. My eyes move to his face and I actually felt my breath quicken and my heart begin to beat faster.
I don’t know what it is, but lately I find myself so enamored with dark skin. It is absolutely gorgeous to look at, and to see a cluster of raindrops reflecting the sun off of his face and forearms gave him the ethereal appeal of an angel come down to Earth. Staring would have been impolite so I politely averted my eyes but it took a lot of concentrated effort to keep away from the sight. I fought the urge to walk up to him, gaping in awe and telling him just how beautiful he was.
I have a dark skinned man at home that I am sure to tell almost everyday how much I love his pretty, pretty skin. I’ve dated maybe 4 or 5 dark skinned men, and couldn’t help but notice that all of them had been treated a certain way all their lives because of it. They make self deprecating jokes about not wanting to get darker in the sun, about being “black enough already” etc. Finally, I took a stand against it and I refused to listen to insecurities about skin tone escaping from full chocolate lips in what was an obvious defense mechanism. Beauty stands proud and alone, it needs no defense.
A dark chocolate male friend of mine came to me and said, “Wow, I saw a picture of your boyfriend– he’s blacker than me!” Automatically I beamed back at him and replied, “Yes, isn’t he gorgeous?!” I cup his handsome face in my hands, kiss his high cheekbones and tell him so as often as I can. There’s so much going on in the world I can’t bring myself to even write out the extent of my emotions in response to the racial tensions in America and the Black Lives Matter movement. At this point I really just feel moved to savor my identity and to celebrate what others can’t seem to understand or grasp.
I read books and watch programs… see and hear the descriptions of olive skin, porcelain complexions and red tinged lips… no one speaks much about the phenomenon of black skin. Every black man I’ve met and had the pleasure of exploring has been composed of various complicated shades of brown– to the amount of cream in their coffee eyes, the hint of coppery brown in their beards, the tender pinkish brown underneath fingernails and toes, the light tracing of chestnut brown in the lines of their palms…I could go on all day.
I celebrate the very thing that is used against us, to profile us and to make us feel inferior. The same world that makes assumptions about our culture, generalizes us and treat us like animals and stereotype us as heathen can’t deny the unique beauty that lies within our color. And if they can– they are truly missing out.