We viewed prints from Kerry James Marshall's self portrait series. Then, we watched Oprah interviewing First Lady Obama. They were talking about the term, "angry black woman..." We went into a deep discussion about being mislabeled and how it affects our self-esteem.
It was disheartening to hear the girls talk about being called loud, ghetto, mean or even bougie for getting good grades. What pained me even more was to hear how they have tried to change themselves because of the name calling.
"Conceded" was the name that bothered them most. Like me, at their age, I was often called conceded and was taught that it was a bad thing to have any form of self love. I was to be humble, modest, and meek. All words that were wrongly defined in my mind, at the time. "Val think she all that!" was the phrase that made me hate the very flaws, in which I learned as an adult, were my greatest strengths. But back then, I tried my best to belittle myself and dumb down my light, to make others "like" and accept me. Many of the girls expressed the same exact sentiments.
Keeping the conversation inclusive, I asked the girls if they ever felt the total opposite of the "conceded girl?" Baby girl opened up in the purest form.
"I'm black and ugly... I'm the black ugly girl."
I let her go on for as long as she wanted. What's interesting is, she didn't cry when she said she was ugly, she cried when we showered her with love.
Racism is an ongoing problem but self-hatred amongst ourselves, in my opinion, is the priority that we as a people, need to hone in on. Why the hell does colorism still exist? You have a million women marching on Washington, and yet, we still have teenage girls who hate being dark or light skinned!! We have to battle against the demons that live within the conscious depths of the youth's minds.
Grown women I know, can't even take compliments because they never received them in their youth. We defile ourselves for love and validation because someone else has taught us that we are not worth anything.
It's not a secret that the oppressor used our uncountable shades and tones to keep us mentally separated, dating even farther back than the 1400s, when the Portuguese first began trading African people like cattle and mixing our women with their men, for pleasure, in the process.
Mulattos, metizos, douglas, and half-castes were terms used in various sectors of the world that carried a connotation of either less than or greater than. How is it that we are still perpetuating this bullshit? How is it still being carried on from generation to generation like an heirloom. How are we to free ourselves from this ignorant mindset? It's in our music, it's in our magazines, it's our timelines, it's a trending hashtag. What will it take for us to finally see ourselves, for ourselves? Celebrate ourselves, for ourselves?