Stripped: My Black Self
By: Courtney Simmons
My formative years were filled with self-hatred. I was constantly wishing that my skin was white as snow, that my hair was straight as a pin, that the number on the scale would be a single digit. I knew that I would never be beautiful by society's standards.
The setting of my childhood was in suburban Seattle, Washington. My family was the darkest shade of skin that most have seen. Even in the historically liberal Seattle, I was consumed with the thoughts of my noticeable differences. Every schoolyard interaction was filled with microaggression from 8-year-old white children.
“Can I touch your hair?”, “Do you have a dad?”, “I cannot believe that the fat black girl got picked over me”. All declarations used against me to berate and belittle me.
I know that childhood racist bullying is meant to strengthen black women and give us “tough skin”, but why does it have to be that way? Who gave us that horrible rite of passage? And why do black children have to endure this from not only children but adults as well? This is why I say, “Being a Black woman is the hardest thing someone can be.”
I think that black girl magic is the product of our sufferings and the essence of the magic is our tears and pain that we hide. It is magical that we can continue to be the butt of all jokes, but still have a smile on our face. It is magical that black women are 3 times more likely to die in childbirth and pregnancy complications but still choose to bear and raise children to be productive members of a society that hates us.
Through all of the childhood trauma, I realized that my black self is something I would never trade. I love the glow of my melanin skin in the summertime. I love the variety of curls in my crown. I love the twist and turns of the body that protects my precious soul. I love that I can establish my self-love, while also acknowledging the struggles and pain that I once felt.
Now, my adulthood is being filled with self-love. To establish myself as somebody that I love. To use my childhood grievances in a way that does not hinder me but uplifts me.