I sat on her front porch clicking my roller skates on the pavement as the blazing sun kissed my skin. Unwilling to allow the truth to process, I played the scene over again in my mind.
My brows furrowed as I thought of the pessimistic words spoken against me, against my culture, against my beliefs. At the tender age of fifteen, there was a great deal that I understood about my world, but there was also so much more to learn.
My best friend had cut me deeply with her venomous speech.
She told me that I was “pretty for a dark skinned girl”. And with each word spoken, a dagger was sent through my chest.
I believed that I may have misheard her so I asked once more, “What do you mean I’m pretty for a dark skinned girl?”
“Don’t get me wrong, you’re pretty. There are just not many pretty dark girls.”
I changed into my sneakers and turned on my heels, headed to the small brick home at the corner of the street that my mother, father, and I occupied. I pushed my dejected emotions to the pit of my stomach as my pace quickened. The more I felt the rise of the tears fighting to escape, the more I needed to be in my father’s arms.
He was the one person who called me exceedingly beautiful every day, and I trusted his judgement.
I didn’t understand what she meant when she said for a dark skinned girl, but I understood that I would forever play that sentence whenever I admired my reflection in the mirror.
I would replay that sentence in my thoughts whenever I felt beautiful or attractive. I would replay those thoughts when a boy complimented me. And I would replay those thoughts when I crossed paths with other melanated girls.
There was absolutely no beauty in those words.
I used my key to unlock the front door as my head hung low. My mother approached me and asked what bothered me.
“Kia said that I was pretty for a dark skinned girl.”
Silence filled the room as my mother bit her full bottom lip and placed her small hand on her wide hip. I stood in front of her as I allowed the tears to finally flow freely.
My mother held me tightly as my sensations consumed me. I didn’t know why her words hurt so badly but I knew that I couldn’t hide the way they made me feel. This continued on for forever until she forced my head high with a nudge of my chin.
“That Kia has not always been the brightest kid you know. And her light skin and straight hair do not make her any more beautiful than you are. Some people are so blinded, that they do not understand true magnificence, and that is not your responsibility to fix.
You are beautiful because you were designed by the Creator.
You are beautiful because your skin has been delicately kissed by the sun and you hold a divine superiority spiritually, emotionally, and physically that no one else has. Your ashes have been turned into beauty so many times over that Kia doesn’t hold a candle to you!
She does not understand, but you are amazingly beautiful and the only person that can take that from you is you.”
Her words helped to uplift me and I felt my mood soften.
She requested that I get cleaned up for dinner just as my father walked through the front door. His finely tailored navy blue suit was now wrinkled and worn down from a long day supervising his construction company. He walked into the kitchen kissing my forehead before joining my mother at the stove and placing kisses all over her face. I smiled and headed to the bath room in preparation for dinner.
As the suds filled my palms my eyes met my image in the mirror and I felt the self-hating thoughts creeping upon me. But before I could mentally tear myself down, my father called for me in the dining room.
I joined them at the table as we held hands as he recited a prayer over our family’s peace, prosperity, and health. Dinner remained pleasant as we discussed our day with one another. It seemed as if my mother hadn’t mentioned the ordeal with Kia to my father so I chose not to speak on it. Afterwards, I helped clean the kitchen and I retreated to my bedroom for the evening.
Moments later, my father knocked softly before entering. I sat in front of my window reading, refusing to acknowledge his presence.
Although his energy dominated the room I knew that the moment I looked at him I would release the rest of the pain my mother’s words were unable to capture.
He sat down near me before he spoke.
“Words have the power to plant thoughts. And those thoughts have the power to manifest reality. So I would like to give you something to ponder on.
We have never been ordinary; we descend from an endless line of royalty. And there is absolutely nothing ordinary about our ethnicity, our mind, our spirit, or our skin.
So the next time someone tells you that you are pretty for a dark skinned girl. You turn around and say to them that you are beautiful because you are chosen. And you continue to hold your head high and walk with great pride because that is the kind of Queen we are raising you to be; graceful, strong, and intelligent.
The world will always attempt to strip you of your power, but it is ultimately up to you how you take those experiences and manifest them into your reality. Just something for you to think about, Beautiful.”
He placed his calloused hands on my face, wiping away the lone tear I was unaware of before leaving me to my thoughts. The words that my parents spoke filled my spirit; and it was as if I had an awakening.
I then understood what it meant to be beautiful and Black.
I understood the level of love and admiration that the words King and Queen held when spoken between them.
I understood what it was to be chosen. And I decided at that moment that I would not live any other way. My family exemplified excellence and there will never be anything about me that is pretty for a dark skinned girl.
Interested in writing for Nia? We’re looking for Guest Writers to join our contributor team! Click HERE to find out how.