Letters to the Editor

The beauty of Blackness: A personal testimony

Letters to the Editor

As a young Black woman who has been influenced by all societal problems with regard to race, it has always been important to me to learn about the beauty of Blackness. Growing up in the American school system, I’ve been appalled, to say the least, at the lack of attention that is given to Black stories that have changed this country’s historical trajectory. For the 16 years I’ve been on this earth, White culture has been shoved down my throat through assignments and exams without that same importance being shown to similar influencers who happened to look like me. From a very young age, I learned to stop relying on non-Black people to teach me the value and beauty of Blackness. In a current era of political turmoil and social problems, I find it very important to remind myself of the beauty that my race holds. If I want to learn about the importance of everything Blackness holds, I need to conduct my own research to fill the intellectual void that the American school system has left me with. All of this research has all led me to one common conclusion: Blackness is so bodaciously beautiful.

From the way we enunciate our words to the way we style our hair, Black people are unique in everything we do. Our presence radiates confidence in all tasks we tackle. The color of my skin empowers me to live life from a unique perspective — but I didn’t always think this way. American private schools stained my conscience with this sense of self-hatred that has plagued my existence for as long as I can remember. I looked upon my classmates with a feeling of grief knowing that I would never possess the characteristics that made me “beautiful” in society’s eyes. Instead of long blonde hair, I had cornrows. Instead of a petite frame, thighs that creased together when I walked. These traits that made me distinctly different from my peers. And although I would later in life learn that these were assets, I did not think that way at the time. I remember the constant disgust I felt looking in the mirror as a child: I would never look how every other “pretty girl” in America looked. I would never look like the girls in my kindergarten class, the actresses on TV, or even the white dolls at my favorite toy store. No. I would always carry my Black elements that made me stand out from society. And I hated myself for it.

But as I grew up, my perspective began to change. Just as I was beginning to accept my characteristics that made me different, society was changing its perspective on what it thought beauty now meant. The “pretty girl” status quo shifted towards a narrative that was even more damning to my newly developed teenage mind: Black traits were beautiful, just not on Black girls. The big thighs and big lips that I despised about myself as a child were now being fetishized, but only on women with complexions 15 shades lighter than mine. It was at this time I realized that nothing I ever did would be considered “good enough” for a society that was developed to rob me of my self-love. In fact, when I recall my childhood, it seems to me as though my society did everything it could to stop me from realizing the potential that lies within me. But I fought back.

I forced myself to find beauty within the elements that I had been taught to hate since birth. The big lips, curly hair, and curvy figure that I had my whole life were in fact beautiful; I was just being blinded my whole life from seeing what I was truly worth. Everything about Blackness is desirable and beautiful. In the way we dress, the music we create, and even the way we walk, Black people are the blueprint for everything good that has ever been produced on this earth. And although I was brainwashed from age 4, to believe that I was inferior because of my race, I know that these conditions were only put upon me to stall my inevitable excellence. Because the fact of the matter is that Blackness always succeeds. We are an unpreventable superpower. Our presence is powerful and dominant and shall never be subdued. From our resilient spirit to our unbreakable character, we as a collective society have overcome every single obstacle that has ever been placed in front of us. And for that, I can confidently say that I am so extremely grateful to be Black. Because to be Black is to be beautiful. To be Black is to be successful. To be Black is to be determined. And most importantly, to be Black is to be powerfully present in every task you take up because you come from a lineage of excellence.

 

 

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