Sunday, February 20, 2011


I wrote this on Tumblr a few weeks ago, in floods of tears and the reactions and messages that came out of it were such a balm to my soul.  I wanted to put it on my Fierce blog too cos I love what it has meant so much.

I have reached a stage in my life where I am utterly unashamed of claiming my ‘angry black chick’ space, my ‘angry black chick’ words because by God there is so much I have to be angry about and being fat and black has burned into the very core of my soul that I have a right to my anger - that often my anger is the beginning of my strength.

My niece said to me today that she wishes she was white.  She refused to play in the sunshine today because she says she can’t afford to get dark because very black people are ugly. I cried today because of the poison that has already touched her soul - the ugly, ugly shallow shit that the world has already managed hurt her with. She’s 6.

I sat her down and asked her if she thinks I’m ugly.  I’m the darkest person in my family.  The women in my family are all fair, all smaller than I am. For years I was openly called hideous to my face because of my darkness and I can’t pretend here that I’m not…sensitive about the subject.
So I asked this little girl who is my heart and my soul if she thinks I’m ugly because I’m dark.  She said no - shock in her eyes.  I try to live every day as an example to this child.  An example of womanhood who loves her body and her skin and her hair and yet in this I’ve failed.  Somewhere I failed her.  I asked her who had told her this - that dark people are uglier than light people.  And she said nobody told her she just saw it.  I hugged her then and cried because ofcourse she saw it - how could she help but see it.

It’s in the thousands of creams that are sold daily on television advertising how black women can find their ‘true’ and more beautiful complexion.  It’s in the millions and millions of black women who hate their hair and openly speak scorn against their own, natural locks.  Women who spend thousands and thousands of rands on looking as not black as they possibly can.  She sees it in the music videos, in movies - the endless odes to fair, long haired women on our screens 24/7.
I love my weave.  I love my braids. I love my wigs. I love looking as different and varied and colourful as I want to when I want to.  I also love my kinky afro - love my wooly, glossy black curls because they are mine and because they are beautiful.  But she’s 6 and maybe I’m sending mixed messages her way by changing my hair, by looking different??   I don’t know.  I just know I never want to hear her speak such pain again.  I don’t want those words coming from her.

I have no remedy here.  I have no solution.  I’m just angry and so hurt.  I’m angry that this golden child is growing up in a world determined to crush her God given beauty.  I’m angry that she questions her worth, her power because she isn’t white or blonde.  I’m angry that my 6 year old darling is already measuring herself against other little girls for this nebulous, sexual approval from a world twisted so far from rightness and goodness and beauty that we fail to see our path even when it stares us in the face.

I’m angry too, I know, at myself.  At those moments as a girl that I would have sold my soul to be thinner and a little yellower.  I’m angry that those moments existed at all - that there wasn’t a single adult who could tell me that I was lovely as I was - that me in my fat, black darkness was beautiful.  Because I was.  And I still am.

I wrote this to bear witness to this moment of anger and thank God for the peace already welling to fill my core.

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