A few days ago, I posted a video on Instagram about my experience dealing with racism. I tried to make my video as brief and personal as possible because racism is a very serious issue that can’t be addressed in a video; not even a day, week, month or year is enough. And my encounters? Too numerous to mention.
Nonetheless, I decided to start by talking about growing up as a dark-skinned girl in Nigeria. Funny, right? I felt there was a need to mention that because not every girl or woman that looks like me will get to encounter racism directly but most, if not all, will be victims of colourism in their lifetimes.
Millions of young girls and women have low self-esteem as a result of colourism. They are made to believe they are ugly and unattractive.
I’ve had conversations with many young girls and women in Nigeria and Africa at large. The stories are very similar. The hard working graduate that couldn’t land the marketing job because she was too “black”. The aspiring actress that never got a big break because movie producers wanted more “Oyibo” lead characters. If not at home, then in school. If not in school, then at the mall, restaurant or some other public place. You literally have to put in extra effort to be noticed or acknowledged.
I had to deal with this for many years. I always felt ugly and not good enough, because of something I had absolutely no control over. I finally had to learn to live with this reality and embrace myself for who I am. I began to tell myself those things that I thought I’d hear from people other than my family and friends – you are beautiful, you are gorgeous etc. It was at that point that I started seeing some positive changes.
I taught myself to pay little to no attention to what others said about my skin or how I looked. I reminded myself that responding to them would only make them more relevant than they actually were (definitely not a day’s job). In fact, I was a little mad at myself for letting them influence the way I saw myself for many years. I was also mad that it took me so long to get to the point of loving and caring for myself. But that’s okay, these things take time.
And for anytime anyone made a comment relating to my complexion, I usually responded with, “how is an Average African meant to look like?”
I’m now honestly asking, if we don’t feel loved, accepted and normal here in Africa, where else would we feel so? Those who make one feel bad for being dark-skinned are same people who mock the other for bleaching her skin. It really baffles me.
Nobody should feel inferior because of how they look. No one is any better than the other. The way we believe no race is superior to another is same way we should believe that no skin color is superior to another.
Black is indeed, beautiful!