Background Info on This Event
As many of you may or may not know, I am a member of an organization called The Black Doll Affair and I also serve as one of the Christmas ambassadors (or as we like to call it “Ambassadolls”) for my hometown- Queens, NY. Long story short, all the chosen Ambassadolls host their own Christmas parties for young girls who live in that city. This was my second time doing it and I have to admit this year was quite moving for me.
So This Happened…
At the party my doll sisters and I started off with a mini activity for the girls. They all had to write down 4 things they love about themselves inside a cut-out mirror for us to later discuss as a group.
As the girls are working, I’m walking around checking out what they’ve written down and for those who completed their mirrors, I asked them to read it to me. I came across this one particular girl, [will not disclose child’s real name so I’ll refer to her as “Vanessa”], who insisted I take a look at her mirror but asked that I do not read it aloud. I immediately noticed one of the things she listed was “BLACK skin” Admiring her emphasis on Black, I asked her why she capitalized the word? Here was her response:
Vanessa: I like my skin. I know I don’t look like other Black girls but I’m still Black.
Me: Why do you think you don’t look like other Black girls?
Vanessa: Because my skin is light and my eyes **points to eyes**. Everyone says I’m not really Black, but I know I am.
Me: Who’s “everyone”?
Vanessa: Black people
Vanessa reminds me a lot of actress Logan Browning during her younger days, in regards to her complexion, and light eyes.
There were a number of things that bothered me about this. But what really pissed me off was that due to the ignorance of others, this young girl now feels she has to prove to other Black people that she’s one of us. Here it is, I’m thinking she capitalized “Black” when writing “Black skin” because she was proud. When in reality I believe she wrote it to convince the reader that she was in fact Black!
Vanessa and I continued speaking and she informed me the “Black people” telling her this were the kids in her class, her friends and older family members. At this point I had to pull up a seat! I couldn’t believe this child had family members telling her this, adults at that!
So How Do I Make This Right?
I discussed with Vanessa that Black people come in all shades and literally pointed out other women and girls in the room who looked very similar to her. I explained to her that she should speak up and let them know everything we discussed today about Black people. Side note: I spoke to Vanessa’s mom about our conversation, she attended the event as well.
It really bothered me that during this day and age where it seems like Black women and girls are really coming together: enforcing movements like #BlackGirlMagic and Black Girls Rock, embracing our curves, facial features and natural hair that there are still girls who are being ostracized. So now if a girl doesn’t have kinky hair, brown eyes or dark skin she can’t be Black?
Although this particular situation hurt me, I’m glad her and I had this conversation and I’m happy she was able to have fun and be among other Black people who accepted her. Vanessa definitely opened my eyes and had me wondering- at events like this, what other issues in our community are we not addressing?
Check out highlights from this year’s event below!