I don’t recall a time in my childhood where I experienced an authentic celebration of blackness.
And, the mandatory school observances of iconic folks in black history and culture didn’t count for me. I felt like the ‘fanfare’ or lack thereof was only executed in order to meet a target and say, “Happy Black History Month”.
Well, from what I can remember, those we tried to celebrate or memorialise were either dead or not from a world I could relate to. I felt like they were the token black people from before Jesus was a boy and the activities in their honour had no real impact.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciated and love the laundry list of iconic black men and women we celebrated on repeat but there were others we overlooked. It was either that or the adults failed the children by not showing them a more rounded view of the world of blackness.
At home, my family and I embraced our beauty and the beauty in our scars as black folk. However, we never truly embraced being black people. And I don’t think it was any fault of our own. Those before my parents celebrated how they were conditioned to and that mentality trickled down.
If you’ve never seen me, I have beautiful dark chocolate black skin.
I’ve never tried to alter my complexion but I’d be lying if I say I never considered it.
In primary school and high school, I struggled because I was teased and called names that made fun of my complexion. The verbal attacks were thrown at me like rotten tomatoes in a bad theatre display. The onslaught was meted out in my face and behind my back.
I recall, as well, times during my early college years were the words “black”, “dark” and anything remotely synonymous repulsed me. I avoided it like the Dengue and Novel Coronaviruses.
My thought process was: Maybe if I tried to look ‘lighter’, then the teasing would stop. But when I was surrounded by my family, blackness was one of the most beautiful aspects of my life.
My family knew nothing about it. It was in my early twenties that I revealed some of that past to my mother. Anyone else who now knows has found out through my writing.
I found that self-love was missing. And that was in large part because I did not truly love myself as a black girl – a black woman – a black queen. I fed on the hate that was served and it ate me up.
After those realisations
Since young adulthood and ‘mid-adulthood’, I put myself in spaces and conversations that embrace, love and celebrate blackness.
Though I dislike the art of ‘peopling’, I interact with more people who look like me in complexion and those who love blackness.
Words of affirmation about beauty and being black are a constant in my life. I consider myself a black queen and I don’t seek that kind of validation from others. Though it is nice to receive, Candice loves on her own blackness and the blackness of others.
I don’t have any children but if I am ever blessed with them, my kids will know that it is definitely an amazing experience being black.
Our blackness goes way beyond our ancestors being enslaved. It goes way beyond the enslaved mentality. It goes way beyond our complexion. It is about honouring the past of hurt but it is also about embracing the talent, the artistry, the brilliance and the overall beauty of people who are black.
We are Queens and we are Kings and we are beautiful.
We must teach our children about more than just a laundry list of iconic black people. We owe it to them.
Happy Black History Month! How will you celebrate?
Signed with love,