— By Samantha from Kenya
Today I logged into a popular photo sharing app, as I was scrolling down my feed I came across a photo that I really liked. I proceeded to clicking on the persons’ page and the first thing my eyes met turned my amusement into disappointment; ‘Only light skins allowed, No dark skins.’ was written in the persons’ bio. My self-esteem dropped. I felt inferior and I was really angered by that sentence but, unfortunately, that was not the first time I had encountered such a ‘phrase’. I have watched movies and documentaries where the ‘darker tone’ was never the preferable choice, where a child is asked to choose between a good and bad, or ugly and beautiful tone. For many of their choices, the dark doll was bad and ugly… while the light/white one was the good and beautiful one.
You see I am a dark-skinned girl here in Kenya, my complexion has been downgraded and perceived as both dirty and ugly. Social media has tarnished my complexion and made ‘us’ seem as some sort of prey to be devoured by ugly memes through which we are compared to light-skinned girls. Polls are created where people are asked whom among the two, light versus dark skinned girl, is prettier, or who seems to be likely more successful than the other. Because of this, more dark-skinned women lighten/bleach their skin to ‘look prettier’. They use bleaching or ‘lightening’ products that will have a more repel effect on them in the future. Such products only worsen their natural beauty! With the fact that they disguise their true natural complexions with industrial bleaching agents, that make them ugly and plastic, they become industrial pawns to be laughed at and ridiculed by society. I personally know this because I have a relative who uses this kind of products.
In a time where racism is ripe in the West, here in my country I feel racism is germinating before our eyes. It is a problem brought during the Colonial Era, and then it sparked after colonialism was over. The Westerners discriminated us for being black, now we discriminate our own race based on our complexion. The fact that someone from your own race passes judgment on you based on of your skin tone is dumbfounding. It utters the fact that some people…well we all need a re-evaluation on how far we have come as a race. Systematic racism is a plague.
I have made peace with that really awful ‘statement’ and realized that, only what we allow to hurt us can pierce our hearts and minds. As much as it is someone’s preference to like a certain complexion, some hurtful statements should be said indoors and not publicized. Complexion or skin color is just a feature and not the centerpiece of who we are as people. People should be judged by their morals and never ever by their skin color that they did not choose at birth.
For example, the fact that people are hired based on whether their complexion is no darker than a brown bag beat the purpose of why we keep going to school to study in the first place; does a brown bag determine my intellectual capability? Is IT worthy enough to determine whether I am well suited for the job? Does IT reflect how many hours I had spent reading and sacrificing time with family and friends to ensure I get that good job? The answer is NO!!! Hiring a person should be based on their leadership skills and work experience, not on complexion.
I am a being full of masses of intellect, so please don’t judge me before I speak, don’t be disgusted if I haven’t given you a chance to be and don’t refuse to serve me because of the sold out perception that all dark people are poor and dirty. Be civilized. Be human. This vice won’t end but, if you are being discriminated against because of that, blessing the almighty above has given you, learn to build a wall between you and them. Keep a high self-esteem. Don’t mask yourself with industrial creams that may ruin you, rejoice in that blessing. Don’t be ashamed. Be happy and glad as I am, because if I could change my skin color now, I know I would wish I would never have changed it. But guess what, it’s irreversible!! This complexion is our identity for sure and for sure it is not the ‘liked’ one but it is the one I like, and you should like yours too!
You can also find this story -and many others- on YaLa Press !