Since I was a little girl, I remember watching my grandmother, mother and aunts, all gather in the kitchen, chit-chatting about this and that…each working on some aspect of our Sunday dinner! Sundays were our “big meal” day! All of our cousins, great-aunts and uncles; would flock through to get their bellies full. It was my favorite past-time growing up…as it was the one day, we would have all of my Caribbean faves available for devouring!
My cousins, sister and I would hide, so they couldn’t see us…as we listened intently to
their conversations as they prepared the masterpiece of a meal, with my grandmother leading the way. My mother was the lightest of my grandmother’s daughters and by far her favorite! She’s the only one with a college degree…and the first to get married! But my mother’s greatest mistake was marrying my extremely dark father! To break down the dynamics of my family makeup, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. I do know that my ancestors were Taino. My great great great grandmother was raped by a Welch soldier when our family settled into Trinidad, and that “black” was what we married into, eventually producing offsprings of mixed cultural aspects, such as Indian and Hispanic!
Colorism was pretty obvious within my family. My grandmother would make us believe that if you were light-skin, you stood a chance of making it. She would tell us that we were lucky because we had what she described as “good hair!”
Growing up, I never actually experienced racism, and to be honest, I wasn’t able to identify with it until I got to my teenage years, and saw it on the television screen. I had to deal with colorism and discrimination from other black females who didn’t look like me or have a Caribbean accent as I did. I wasn’t really able to fit into any groups because even though I fell between the “darkies” and the “lights”, I wasn’t accepted because my hair didn’t look like either of theirs, or my eyes were too “chinky” and got called Chinese names (my grandfather is Chinese-Caribbean). As I got older, I was considered “exotic” to boys, and this, of course, made it even harder to make friends, especially with females.
I began to read and grew fascinated by the diversity of cultures and wanted to explore so much more. I started to crave empowerment and mentorship from other women (grew up in a huge matriarch family). I wanted to celebrate the skin I was adorning. I wanted to celebrate all women, regardless of their uniqueness, because that’s how I always saw it!
Fast forward to today, where I am raising two beautiful queens and a king…and it hurts my soul…the state of the world that they have to navigate through! Division is everywhere and it’s heartbreaking. But I celebrate them! I celebrate their uniqueness and never let a moment pass without telling them how proud I am of them! I let them know that we live in a world where fear can make people do stupid things, but to never let the fear of others define them! We are never our circumstances. I give thanks to God every day that I didn’t’ have to grow up in an era where racism and discrimination were deadly! I know that my black girl magic makes me resilient, fierce and beyond basic. And that intimidates and scares others who aren’t able to accept and love themselves for their own uniqueness! I no longer allow the thin line between appreciation and appropriation to rob me of my identity because I know who I am and Whose I am!
Queens of Virtue