parenting, women

Colorism?!

colorism blog postIn last week’s episode of Black-ish (Season 5, Episode 10) The Johnson family was faced with what many families of color are faced with, the topic of colorism. What is colorism you might asked, well it is defined as prejudice or discrimination against individuals with darker skin tone, typically among people of the same ethic or racial group (dictionary.com). Now you may wonder how can people of the same race be prejudice against each other, but trust it happens especially in African-American families where there can be a variety of shades, light, brown, honey, caramel, dark, black people come in all colors. While we are told to be proud of our brown skin we are the very same people who will tease, bully, harass each other about being too dark, too light. It’s a sad but true fact we can hate each other all because of the color of our skin, the thing that we fight against in so many other arenas we fight with each other with as well. Go on over to ABC.com and check out Black-ish which airs Tuesdays at 9pm, especially this most recent episode if you’d like to delve into the topic on colorism.

Recently in our home we had the topic of colorism come up, which makes the timing of this episode extra special. As with every night before bed I apply my facial cream to remove the residue of the day. As I was standing in the mirror Anissa asked if she could apply some. I explained to her that this was for mommy to remove her makeup and that her skin was gorgeous and she didn’t need the extra, I saw the disappointed look on her face and inquired as to why she looked sad. She explained to me that my cream was making my skin lighter and prettier and that her darker skin didn’t look like mine. GASP! Anissa is 6 years old and I never thought that one she didn’t think her skin was pretty (we always talk about how beautifully black girl magic she is) and I never thought that she thought I was trying to lighten my skin. Just to give you some background I am the lightest skinned member of the household, I just dyed my hair black and I get extremely pale in the winter, which attributes to my lighter tone. I get teased about this all the time, how can I go from tanned to light bright. It never really bothered me because I’m comfortable in my skin no matter what color it turns. But in this moment I felt uncomfortable, I would have given anything to have a tan and stand with Anissa in her honey glow. I explained to my sweet face girl that I was washing my face not getting lighter and that she was gorgeous that her tanned skin was something other people would pay for, then I showed her pictures of me in the summer (optimal tan) and then we looked at me in the mirror now. We both agree that I need a tan and then we pointed out the beautiful things we notice about each other.

In that moment I thought about other little girls and boys and the questions they might have about their skin color, about them being teased, and about them feeling uncomfortable in their own skin. How do we as a community address this issue? Why do we discriminate against each other? How can everyone begin to love the skin they’re in?

Well here are some tips (simple but it’s a start)

  1. As a family stop bullying, teasing, joking about skin tone. Although it may seem like it’s all fun and games we don’t know the real seed that’s being planted for someone to learn to not love themselves. As long as we allow this to go on we nurture the seed that allows some one to think one shade of skin is better than the other.
  2. When children have questions about skin tone and why they look different don’t brush it off, ADDRESS IT. We have got to start having conversations that teach our children to love themselves, this is a lesson that we should all want them to learn at home and not out in the world. If we start the conversations in our homes, then we at least give them the tools and preparation to handle these conversations out side of out homes.
  3. This is a big one for me so agree or disagree, but children should have toys in all shades, this more so falls in the category of baby dolls. Anissa has dolls of all shades and they are all beautiful to her. We as families have to set our own beauty standards and teach our children to do the same.

The tips I gave are something you can do right now to help your children learn to appreciate who they are. Whether you are black, white, yellow, brown, or purple, you are beautiful. Embrace that beauty, appreciate the beauty, then get to the business of letting the world see you walk in that beauty.

How will you handle the topic of colorism if it comes up in your home? Don’t wait start the conversation today.

To hear more about this topic tune into Episode 3 of The Parental Guidance Counselor Podcast. Don’t forget to subscribe.

black women, health, women

Being Nanekia…GirlTrek A Walk To Self Discovery!

nik girl trekA little over a week ago thanks to #BlackGirlsInCle I had the opportunity to attend Girl Trek Cleveland Edition. I was excited 1. to find out more about Girl Trek, 2. To get out of the house on a Friday night for a little me time. Go on over and read my review of the event on www.blackgirlincle.com. The space, the vibe, the sisterhood was overwhelming and as with each experience I get to learn more about myself. So what did I learn this time around…Keep reading!

I’ve been living this outside my comfort zone lifestyle for a while. I’ve been many places alone, which no longer bothers me, this experience was different, it took me to a new level of being uncomfortable and I was completely there for it. I’ve had to do a lot of self reflecting and soul-searching lately, this was a decision I did not take lightly as in order for me to become better, to be available to encourage others to be their best selves, in order to live by example, I can’t be bullsh*tting myself. If there was any of that left, the #girltrek experience pulled it all out.

  1. All the ladies in the room were told to stand silently against the wall and leave all judgements including judging ourselves outside the room, there were a lot of ladies but we manage to do it. Then we were told to really think about ourselves and be honest with the answers we were giving. Step forward if you have improved your healthy living lifestyle, step forward if you have left an abusive relationship, step back if you remain in an abusive relationship, this went on with multiple questions until we were uneven. As I gazed around the room I saw women who were just like me, standing on my own in life figuring things out. I’d experienced some gains and losses and I wasn’t alone.
  2. As we remain in silence we were brought to a circle to do a rhythmic dance exercise. Honestly I had no clue what we were about to do, but the spirit in the room was refreshing and inviting. There were so many melanated faces in the room as we looked at each other the music began. First there was a slow beat, which we swayed to, then the build up and as the music began to heighten we were instructed to dig, scooping low (floor) then releasing at the top (above our head) as we scooped the sound was one of great pain from each person, but then the release was a roar, like we had found freedom and we needed everyone to know. The more we scooped the greater the release until you could feel the humming in the room get louder and louder with every release. Not sure if my description is giving you the full picture, but imagine being weighted down and you feel like you can’t get up, but then you manage to get up and now you can’t even feel the weight of what you were carrying. I felt all the pressure of that day being removed from me, the issues with co-workers, kids not cleaning up, missing date night, loss of friendships, too many meetings, goals not reached, the weight of all the issues I’d been having I could no longer feel. What did I feel? I felt my sisters carrying me, I felt with each hum of their voices they were helping me release. This was magical because let me tell you, a girl was extremely tired of carrying that weight!
  3. The Wonder Stories of Wonder Women! This part of the evening was amazing. You all know I like a good story and these were stories of women right here in my community, sharing defeat and triumph. With each shared story I felt closer to these women I did not know. We experienced joy, pain, laughter, anger, so many emotions and so many divine connections made. Once the stories were over we were told to grab a sister, hold her hands and look her directly in her eyes. No smiling, just studying her face and seeing her story in her eyes. Have you actually ever looked at another woman? Not her outfit, make-up, shoes (we know I love shoes), not her smile, but what’s in her eyes. Staring into this strangers eyes I began to notice things I hadn’t about her and we had been sitting next to each other for at least 2 hours. If you are so inclined really look at someone, and you will see their story. This was magical for me and I’m not going to lie the tears began to flow, because I knew my story, that behind my smile, behind the jokes, I was crying my eyes out tired and I didn’t see rest in site. That sister hugged me so tight I felt my body go limp and finally rest!
  4. Finally we get to the walking part, LOL! I mean all this emotional stuff and now you want me to walk. If you read my #blackgirlincle article then you know that 137 black women are dying each day due to preventable diseases. For me personally I know stress correlates directly to some of my health issues. Being able to relieve some of that stress and set myself free was amazing. So what does walking have to do with this? It’s a form of self-care we should start taking advantage of. When I’m angry, take a walk, when I’m sad, try taking a walk, when I’m happy take advantage of that boost and take a walk. Our ancestors found freedom in walking and you can find it too just take your first steps.

Girl Trek is on a mission to get a million African-American women to join the movement by 2020, I’m one of those women! My road to travel in getting me together started when I decided to take that single step, to live a life that defines me and no one else. What will your walk look like? Will you join us?
onika jervisOnika Jervis, Chief Engagement Officer. Girl Trek

Veronica VeryVeronica Very, President & Founder, Wonder of Women

Morgan DixonMorgan Dixon, Founder & CEO, Girl Trek