Charlotte Marshall Templeman
Black is Beautiful
When we think of beauty there are many images that come to mind. Some perceive beauty as having long hair, being skinny or even light skinned. Others may perceive beauty as having natural hair, thick lips, broad nose and big hips. Whatever our perception of beauty is we are all beautiful in God’s eye. However, for some beauty is defined by what the media says and what images they see daily. Whether those images come from television, magazines, movies or music videos, beauty definitely is viewed differently by many. When we think of the word black it usually is meant to have a negative connotation. Words such as blackmail, blackball, blacklist, a black cloud, and even the color black are meant to be all things negative. The black cat running across the street in front of you is supposed to mean evil so we try to stay clear of them. When we think of white it usually is meant to be positive. We are told growing up that little white lies are not too bad and that white signifies purity and goodness. If that is constantly bombarded in our mind how do we change the way we see ourselves?
Recently on the Bill Cunningham show there was an African American young woman who desired to be white. She previously had bleached her skin and changed her name because she thought the name she was born with was too “ghetto.” She hated who she was and she despised other black people. Her family was fed up with her but there was one family member who chose to remain by her side. When asked by the talk show host why she hated who she was she began to explain how she was made to feel growing up while attending an all-white school. She felt ostracized by the students and teachers. As she grew up she began to feel that being white would be better for her. She felt she would be able to get a good job, a wonderful man and a beautiful home. In her mind, white was right and black was wrong. As I watched the show it brought tears to my eyes because I realized this woman did not wake up one day feeling this way. This was a result of the blatant and negative subliminal messages she experienced through the media or everyday life. Although the audience was upset with her I sympathized with her because she was a wounded individual with years of pain that resulted in her hating who she was. I knew that within the time constraints of the show she would not be miraculously changed but I prayed she would eventually get help.
There are many African Americans who feel the way the guest did. As a child I remember growing up being called blacky, tar baby, ugly and fat. Although I had a positive home environment and parents who loved me and instilled in me that I was beautiful, I still suffered from low self –esteem. I often wondered why I had to be born dark – skinned because in my mind it meant bad. By the grace of God, loving parents and family I was able to see that being black and the word black was not a negative thing but a positive thing. Unfortunately, there are many who have not been rescued from this prison of hate that they have sentenced themselves to. So how are they saved?
Education is the key to knowledge and self –worth. Reading is the gateway to freeing yourself from mental oppression while understanding those who came before us in the journey for equality is pivotal in how we love ourselves and treat others. African Americans for hundreds of years were told they were not worthy, useless, less than human and not a valuable part of this country. Although they were told these things the fight for justice continued. These things alone are what make us beautiful. Our tenacity, determination and willingness to go on in spite of the obstacles we have endured are one of the most attractive attributes to who we are. Black is beautiful and always will be. I am black and proud and I SCREAM it loud!