I often discover significant times in my past life that have proven to be a major influence of who I am today. Often living my life contrary to the norm, I am in a space where I increasingly accept and learn from life struggles. One particular struggle lasting for many years, most of my youth into young adulthood, was my hatred of my dark skin. Walking on school buses, entering classrooms, solo performances, or anything causing peers to focus attention to me was a living nightmare. There were times I would attempt to hide my face because my complexion seemed to cause such a disturbance. To my father I was a beautiful princess, to the world I was darky. My own people, so-called Blacks, African-Americans, Negroes, take your pick, created clever sobriquets and namesakes to label my blackness. What can you do when everyone in your world gawks at you as if you were the sideshow? My words may seem dramatic, but my feelings were very real; feelings of sadness and inadequacy. There was no self-worth. I was worth nothing, I was not beautiful. I was not accepted. For many, especially among youth, acceptance is everything; for some, its life or death. How important is self-worth? Self worth influences everything. Self worth influences your attire, your posture, the company you keep, how you spend your money, your sexuality, dating and your choice of a potential spouse. Self worth can influence your drive and ambition or it can institute inferiority. My self-worth had depleted because I experienced what many colonized spaces have experienced, a confiscation of all things naturally beautiful, undisturbed, and uncontaminated, and transmuted into a robotic being seeking proper align to ensure survival, acceptance. I was no longer in control of myself. I was to appease the public, the norm, and the masses. No one person is committed the task of creating a standard of beauty, the colonizer has done this for us. Social portrayals have taken over our lives, our families, our communities, our decisions, our thinking.
What was wrong with my dark skin? Apparently for my people I was too dark. Perhaps during my days of self-pity, something similar to Cameroon pop-star Dencia’s controversial product, Whitenicious cream would have cured me of my “hyper-pigmentation”.
My color is not a disease, yet ignorance proves to be a sickly affliction affecting many. I no longer share in the people’s ignorance. I am no puppet; I have no strings for you to pull.
I will allow you to share in my blackness and be blessed.
I am Noni Ayana
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