There has been something that has been weighing on my mind. It’s something I have noticed many people in the black community fall victim to and ashamedly I say, it is something I have also been guilty of…
Working with primary and junior ages within the school system, I see and hear many children who are beginning journeys of self-identification. They are beginning to find themselves and as a result, I often overhear the opinions that they have of themselves and each other. I find that the children with the healthiest opinions of themselves seem to be celebrated both for their outer and inner qualities.
What do I mean by this?
Well…this celebration is not necessarily represented by an overt party that draws attention to them. Rather, it is the covert attitudes that parents, family, and friends may direct or impose on children, that impacts their personal psychology. Let me give you an example. If I single out young Patrice and tell her that her wavy hair and hazel eyes are “so beautiful”, I have not only impacted her ideals of beauty but I have also directly impacted the psychology and self-identity of her darker skinned friends with more tightly coiled hair whom I’ve completely ignored.
Specifically, let’s talk about ideals of beauty within the black community. In one case, I overheard an eight-year-old tell her teacher about her new baby sister. “Everyone says my sister is so beautiful. You know she’s a lot lighter than me. Yeah… she really is so beautiful.” After picking my jaw up off of the ground, I determined that this child must have heard the constant repetition of how beautiful and light her baby sister was. This celebration of her baby sister’s beauty, and ignorance of her own, is a problem. Why do we find the need to acknowledge one and not the other?
I will go as far to say that this is where the destruction of this young girl’s self-esteem begins.
If she now beings to recognize that the children and young women with lighter skin, straighter hair, and lighter coloured eyes are the ones who get positive feedback regarding their looks, then wouldn’t it make sense for her to try to obtain those characteristics?
We question the intentions people have to wear contacts, bleach their skin, and straighten their hair. Although to many, these measures to obtain “beauty” seem extreme, we must realize that as community it is our own fault. As adults who claim have some form of intelligence, it is our responsibility to think critically about these issues. As literate, questioning beings with the ability to reason, we must recognize that we are the caretakers of the next generation.
We need to stop fetishizing children.
Yes I said it.
WE have a FETISH, preference, and favour for children who have “mixed”, “Caucasian”, or “non-black” features. These are your daughters and you are shaping their psyche. Don’t complain when they don’t become the strong, self-assured, proud woman that you think they should be.
Oh yeah…the men and fathers need to be held responsible for this also, but we’ll talk more about that later.
I’ll leave this here for now…to be continued.