Sunday, November 25, 2012

Baa, Baa, Black Sheep

I come from a family of medium brown to passe blanc Creoles. Unlike most of my cousins, my hair doesn't just lie down on my head in soft waves. If I'd had light skin or straight hair I think I would have been more accepted, but I had neither. My kinky, Mother Africa bush just laughs at flat irons. In my family, I'm "dark-skinned" and my older brother (with skin so light that he had freckles, even in the winter) never let me forget it. He used to taunt me with the children's song

"Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes, sir, yes, sir,
Three bags full;
One for my master,
And one for my dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane."

and he'd stick his fingers in my hair when he got to the third line. It always made me burst into tears. I grew up thinking that I was the ugliest creature to ever walk the earth. I was the darkest of all my childhood friends and felt the brunt of the (self-)hatred for all things deemed "black" that these girls learned from their parents.

It didn't make me hate other dark-skinned people, but it did make me want to have nothing to do with light-skinned folk. I didn't want them as friends, as lovers, as co-workers, or anything else. I had a child with a guy from a similar background: the darkest in his Creole family. Throughout the pregnancy, I envisioned my deep-brown baby only to birth a girl that was lighter than either of us.

Her birth forced me to confront my color issues and I've come a long way since then, but it's a lifelong process. It can't be separated from socio-economic class, gender, et cetera. So, I try to learn to love myself more every single day.

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