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Rakiya George

Captured by  Jesse Williams

Captured by Jesse Williams

This post is directed towards my fellow people of color, no matter the shade. Have you ever felt discouraged because of the skin you're in? Has society ever influenced how you feel about yourself? Why did this bother you? I believe that we all learn trained habits that are both good and bad. Thinking that your skin has a negative effect on your livelihood is a prime example. Although it isn't spoken about widely enough, there is a population of people who unconsciously hate their skin/them-selves. You don't wake up and feel this way, if it is being repeated in the media, or even subliminally, it becomes a learned trait or thought that you believe over time. As children, we imitate behavior, and carry it on as we get older. 

The media is a very toxic place that can lead anyone astray from understanding their actual beauty. Growing up, straight hair and perms was what every little girl wanted; having sleek and shiny hair is what made you appealing. In reality, the long-term effects of a perm are quite disgusting; I'm glad that this fad has been cancelled and natural women are taking storm. I permed my hair in maybe the fourth grade, and by the fifth grade, I told my mom to take it out. I didn't chop off my hair, just kept it old school and braided it out. I'll never forget the day when I came to class with two struggling afro-puffs with damaged transitioning ends; I felt like myself, I was comfortable. Having a perm was easy to manage, and what little girl doesn't want hair flowing down their back? I told my mother that I didn't want to continue doing this to myself, because I wasn't being me.

Growing up with traditional Caribbean parents, I understood my worth at a very young age. I understood that I wasn't allowed to let anyone ever make me feel inferior and that I wasn't good enough. Even though the world was black and white, and I understood that, I was always proud of my being as well as my surroundings. When I was little and wanted a doll, I always went for a black doll, and I never felt the urge to get a doll that wasn't close to me. I just adore black skin; it's rich, it's beautiful, it's one of a kind. One time, I wanted to go to the Disney store with my mother, and she wouldn't allow me in that moment and ever in the future because back then, they didn't have a princess that looked like me. To my mother, I was a princess, so why get something that didn't have a resemblance to me to make me feel like one? Those were life lessons that occurred in my house hold everyday, and I'm forever grateful for what it has taught me. 

Captured by  Jesse Williams  

Captured by Jesse Williams 

I went to a predominantly African American elementary and middle school, so I was always surrounded by people that looked like me. Looking back on it, I can tell that some of my peers were trained to think that having dark skin wasn't admirable. I've been called burnt by fellow twelve-year olds because they didn't know any better. I've been told that I wasn't as pretty as the light-skin "red bone" classmate, because like I said before, kids imitate behavior. Speeding up to a more mature age, late teens/early college years, I've encountered men who claimed they refuse to start families with black women. A man that only pursues women outside of his race to make sure that his child is mixed/has certain qualities, is a man that doesn't love his self. They exist. The whole white women let you do what you want act is tired, I know the true meaning behind your ignorance, and at a certain age, you need to wake up and grow out of it. Black men are disrespected just as black women are, and because the media has so much negativity raining down on the average black man, insecurities and ignorance form as a defense mechanism. Systematically,  the world isn't on your side, and that is not the message that I want any black man to comprehend; you need to understand that you are loved. 

Captured by  Jesse Williams

Captured by Jesse Williams

People of color you are loved. Your skin is dignified and rare. The opposition tries to imitate you daily, and they will never amount to what God has so rightfully created. Do not detest and bring each other down because of shades; we are all one, because once something goes down, the opposition doesn't see a difference in any of us at all, to them we are all the same. Self-love allows you to conquer anything that you want to achieve. There's beauty in everything that you do, and people a person of color, you can execute that effortlessly. 

Poise - Graceful and elegant bearing in a person. 

That is what you are as a person of color, embrace it.