Growing up, I felt the pressure of my skin color. As much as I hate to say it, at times it was something I was confused about. Kids would try to argue with me, telling me how I had to identify. “You’re brown!” “No, you’re black.” “You can’t be black because you’re not dark enough.”
Skin color has always been a sensitive topic for me. I’ve gone through racism. I feel a fire inside me when I think about my African ancestors who were demeaned for the glory of their essence. I still feel the fire inside me when I think about all the comments I’ve got about my hair. I can remember the envious twists inside little Shi Shi’s heart as she watched everyone in school glorify the white girl’s long hair. How did it manage to sway in the wind even when we sat inside the classroom?!
Regardless of their Caucasian inches, I was never taught by society to love my nappy African fro. Nappy was a bad word for all I knew. Growing up, my mom put relaxers in my hair. It was easier to manage and it made me feel pretty knowing that my hair could be as straight as girls I seen on T.V.
Age 14, I decided my “Caucasian relaxed African hair” fantasy was over with. I shaved it all off. Never regretted it and never looked back. Here I am, age 19 with natty dreads. My image of the world has definitely evolved since that tender age, but I still refuse to be morphed into a false-sense of self. My hair is nappy and I am more proud than ever. No one questioned me, because the confidence that radiated was much stronger than any self-doubt.
Let’s not be distracted by my wonderful locs, the true purpose of this blog post was to discuss the fact: I am tired of watching “okay” movies. Recently I watched “Holidate” on Netflix along with some other Caucasian casted movie. Now, before your panties get in a bunch, this post is not to say “NO MORE WHITES!” This post is to say, “Maybe a little less white and a little more chocolate.” Let us indulge in my mind for a moment.
Growing up, I was isolated. I was treated differently at times only because I was different. My melanin was popping. I remember once in third grade my teacher played the class a very… very graphic documentary of black people being lynched. This was a pivotal moment in my life. I realized there was more to life than the time spent on the monkey bars. There was darkness ingrained in our dark rich blood. All the other students squirmed and stared at me. I remember my friend at the time, we were the only colored people in our class. We sat with our knees-up to our quivering lips, hoping to find safety behind the threads of our blue jeans.
This was the moment I realized I was different and everyone knew it before me. Ever since that moment, throughout my life, the obvious line between black and white became clear to me. It wasn’t until recently that my patience for it has become dangerously thin.
While watching the movie Holidate, I started to grow irritated. Yeah yeah, the movie was cute and all. Unknowing strangers fall in love and have a happy ending. That’s great and all, but I couldn’t help but notice the more I kept watching, the whiter it got.
History is never truly erased nor abolished. I know racism is still very real. I know subliminal training and messages are just as real as well. Between cops, violence and the media, it’s hard to miss.
Do not be mistaken, there is no problem with white people, however, there is a problem with the majority of mass media presenting white people only having happy endings or beautiful lives. When are we gonna find a movie that shows true diversity. When are we gonna have a society that represents all disabilities, skin colors, sexual preferences, mental illnesses… the list goes on.
Child Shi is jealous as she sees, yet again, a picture perfect white girl in the movie. No obvious flaws/uniqueness. Her smile is inhumanly white, her flirtatious demeanor is flawless. Every guy falls for her perfect physique and she knows it. These girls usually get everything they want by the end of the movie plus more. Now, yes you’re gonna say “Well Shi, this isn’t every movie. Just watch something else,” I get that, but do you think young girls (and boys) know this? As a kid, we eat whatever we are fed. If we are fed this perfectly curated image of what an attractive, successful woman is, then that is what we begin to compare ourselves to. And if we’re not comparing ourselves to it, we begin to subconsciously compare others in our lives. The window for creativity is dangerously small.
I remember buying hair pieces and listening to music I didn’t even like, trying to figure out how to change my melanin features to be more love-able. Complete horse crap if you ask me.
As the movie finished my boyfriend says, “I really liked this movie. It was good!” I sit quietly with a curled lip. He didn’t see the frustration built up inside me as the only people of color are actors in the background.
“Trash,” I replied. He asks me why, and I explain that the only diversity we got was the measly actors in the back. “You can’t even see their faces clearly!” I demand an explanation from him as I preach, “Why can’t a black woman ever have the leading role and get everything she wants in the end.”
He replies, “Well, most of the well-known actors are white. And they’re the most popular and loved by fans already.”
I take a deep breath to control the fire inside as I listen to this response.
The “prettier” and “less flaws” you have in the white American’s eye, that’s who gets the leading roles. Whoever the average white male finds more attractive is casted as the leading woman. Very rarely, will you find a woman of color as a leading actress in the top-charting films. I know these are very open statements, but I am speaking from my experience.
As I look down, I see the clear line between whites and blacks drawn in the dirt between my toes. It’s deep, but slowly fading. As much as we’d love to imagine it’s completely gone, it’s not. The grass faintly begins to grow over it, but the branded scars inside our melanin is still there.
This post is not only to discuss the media, but all forms of injustices. It’s 2021. I am exhausted by white men having more opportunities than the average black man or woman. Simply the origin of your last name can determine whether you have a place to live. The color of your skin, the whiter it glistens beneath the tears, determines how bad the cops feel for you or not. Please do not grind your teeth in frustration as you read these words, my ancestors and I have already done this for you.
All I ask is please do your part to help bring awareness, compassion, and evolution to this world.