“I Want to Marry a Man from Another Race Because We’ll Have Beautiful Mixed Babies.”

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This piece was originally written for the spectacular blog My Black Matters which aims to be the ‘voice of today’s black women’.

A few months ago, a friend  of mine stated, “I want to marry a man from another race because we’ll have beautiful mixed babies.” As crazy (or maybe familiar) as it sounds, the girl I was two years ago would’ve agreed with her. I would’ve gushed at the thought of marrying a European man so that my children would have curly 3a hair and olive skin. I had these thoughts even though both of my parents are Nigerian, and therefore shared the same ethnicity. Did I not consider myself beautiful as I was not mixed or light skinned?

Of course not. My confidence level was lower than what it is now, but I thought I was pretty okay looking. So, why was I, a dark-skinned girl, denying that girls of my shade are beautiful? Thinking about this answer, I looked back at my situation two years ago. I was a fifteen-year-old girl who would turn to the music channels and see all my favourite male singers dancing with women of a lighter skin tone. Who would see all my lighter counterparts get the most ‘likes’ on Instagram. Who would see the memes directed at dark-skinned women and girls like myself, and laugh with along with them.

I tried to deduce and address the first reason for my unconscious anti-blackness. Lack of representation. It seemed a repeating pattern that my favorite male singers would be serenading a young woman of a lighter shade, or in some cases, the darker complexioned woman would be the antagonist of the video. The opposite portrayals of light and dark skinned women didn’t seem like an issue to me because it felt normal, so I never questioned it.

I previously mentioned my friends who had, and still, receive more recognition from boys than girls of my shade. Some may argue that it was not due to the skin tone, but more of the personality. However, let’s be honest. How many people are attracted to personality first? I can’t say that I didn’t attract some people, but once again, it seemed that the light skinned ‘red bone’ girls would have the boyfriends.

The last reason for my ignorance would have to be the constant jokes and memes targeting dark-skinned girls and women. When countless tweets slandering dark skinned women in a poor attempt to be funny; most, unfortunately made by black men; are available to the public, and for young girls of my shade to see, there’s no surprise that once the shock of seeing portrayals of us in that light has died down, the ignorant fifteen-year-old that I was would begin to laugh along with the same men who protest against racist jokes.

The sad thing about what I went through is the fact that it’s an ongoing cycle and is an issue that is still prevalent today and will continue to occur. Today there are dark skinned fifteen-year-olds who may feel unwanted simply due to how much melanin is present in their skin. It sounds ridiculous, right? If you think about it scientifically, forgetting the history and social issues for a moment, the cells that produce melanin (called Melanocytes) have an effect on the mindset of a whole species. The human species.

I’d like to think that there are young women and girls who love and embrace their dark skinned-ness. Of course, they exist and that feeling of self-love is incredible, believe me. However, realistically, the numbers of dark-skinned young women and girls who have yet to feel confidence and see beauty in their tone outnumbers those who acknowledge their appearance.

The problem is, there’ll always be a lack of representation of dark-skinned women in the media, one may always see light-skinned counterparts being seen as more attractive than darker skinned women (although women, generally, shouldn’t need to rely on the recognition from others to know that they’re beautiful but that’s an article for another day!). Additionally, the meme makers will continue to make memes. So…. A solution? What changed my mindset a year later? At 16, how did I finally see the beauty I held?

I turned to Tumblr. There are many other social media sites and platforms (this online blog being a definite choice to start with), however, that’s just the way ‘path’ I chose. I began to read about the history of my race. Not only slavery but of the success we’ve had as a race also. I finally understood that, as a race, we’ve always had ‘it’ in us – whatever you interpret ‘it’ as.

Following that, I began to come across images of dark-skinned women and girls going about their business. Some were professional photos, and others were selfies. Not only did the images ignite some sort of fire that I needed to recognise the beauty of people like me, but the captions too. “Black girls rock”, “carefree black girl,” were the theme, and I was really beginning to agree.

Finally, I tried to dive into a deeper reason as to why dark skinned women received such ridicule in society. I have no intention of turning this into a history lesson, but to summarise: Lighter-skinned slaves were deemed more desirable since they resembled white women the most. One could almost see the parallel between the ignorant white people over a century ago and the ignorant society we live in today. I certainly noticed it.

With all this new information I had racing in my head, I felt a sense of purpose. My dark skin was a part of me, therefore, I had to accept and cherish what, I believe, God had blessed me with. Yes, we aren’t represented in the media. But I know we exist! Yes, we don’t attract enough men or boys, but I love myself and that’s all that matters to me! Yes, we are ridiculed, but I have enough confidence in myself to brush off the nonsense, and concentrate on loving and bettering myself.

As I prepare to enter university, I tend to wonder whether the colourism I witness now will carry on into my further education. And the answer is yes. Am I okay with that? No. But I’m good with myself, and I have hope that I will continue to speak out against colourism faced against dark skinned women and girls because I recognize my beauty and strength, and I believe that others ought to feel the same.

So back to my acquaintance who wants mixed babies because they’re so beautiful.The seventeen-year-old me has a response.

“All skin tones are beautiful, and I will see the beauty in whatever shade of black my babies will be in. I will continue to encourage my children to recognize their beauty, talent and worth because Black. is. Beautiful.”

By @kgenevieve98

Did you relate to this? Do you have any questions? If so, write them in the comment section below- we would love to hear from you:)

If you would like to share your stories, experiences and opinions email us at oneisnotenough16@gmail.com.

Bless x

#Oneisnotenough TEAM

Twitter: @1isnotenough
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‘Growing up a White British Female has allowed me to grow up privileged’

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Growing up a white British female has allowed me to grow up privileged.  Privileged because I am always able to see people like me represented by the media.  Privileged because I am not treated negatively due to the colour of my skin.  Whilst I am obviously grateful for this, this privilege that I have experienced should never have occurred.  Seeing people of the same ethnicity as me in the media should not be treated as an honour; and instead people from all different cultures and backgrounds should be represented by the media and society in general.

Due to my background, I ashamedly say that I grew up blinded by this privilege.  My mother always taught me about issues such as racism; meaning that I was not completely ignorant, although I was blinded nonetheless.  I was very fortunate in the sense that mum made sure that I was aware of what the issues surrounding racism were, as well as how we need to work together to ensure that everyone is loved for their personality rather than their ethnicity and background.  For this reason, I grew up not understanding why some people chose to be ignorant and racist.  However, because of the British education system and lack of representation in the media I was unaware of just how bad this level of ignorance still was- how people were STILL being judged merely on the colour of their skin.  I learnt very little in school about other cultures; and was seemingly blissfully unaware of any racism that was going on in the World around me.  I was also fortunate as my peers in school were accepting and loving of people; meaning that I had never been exposed to such levels of hate and ignorance before.

I grew up not knowing much about other cultures.  Although, this was something that I was never happy about.  I take great interest in each of my friends’ cultures, as it is important to me that I have an understanding as to their races and religions.  Each of the stories I have heard have greatly interested me; but it saddens me that I would never have known the stories and my knowledge would not be anywhere near as rich if I had not befriended these people.  I would never have known, for instance, about the Golden Temple and the massacre of the Sikh’s if I had not spoken to one of my friends (who actually co-founded this blog).

I would never have known about colourism if it weren’t for another friend of mine (again, who co-founded this blog).  As she explained colourism to me, I couldn’t help but feel upset and emotional.  It hurts me to know that people that I love (and who deserve to be loved) are not represented in the media.  It had never really occurred to me that colourism is a thing.  I guess this is because it doesn’t affect me; but that doesn’t make my ignorance acceptable.  It is so important that we utilise our education system (and others across the World) in order to help everyone understand that they are beautiful regardless of characteristics such as: race, gender, sex, sexuality, disability, appearance etc.  I cannot even emphasise how important I feel this is.  Everyone deserves to be confident, to feel loved, and to see people like themselves represented in the media.

The same friend recently said that I was ‘woke’.  If you are unaware as to what this means, it basically means that an individual is aware of social injustice and that they are actively sharing information concerning issues regardless of whether they affect them themselves.  In one sense being called woke is obviously a huge compliment.  It is good to know that my efforts to share information to do with any sort of social injustice problem do not go unnoticed.  It is also good to know that people are aware of how strongly I feel about these topics.  However, in another sense the term makes me a little sad.  It makes me sad because ‘woke people’ as a separate group should not be a thing.  In other words, there should be no such thing as people who are not woke.  Everyone should be fighting for equality and justice, regardless of whether they are personally affected or not, as it is the correct thing to do.  It is no use saying that you are upset by something without actively trying to spread the word about it.

Recently, I was hit by the realisation that if people had not actively campaigned against issues such as racism and homophobia in the past, I would not have been allowed to meet my friends.  I would only have been allowed to talk to one of my friends.  One.  This is understandably insane to me, and upsets me as it shows how people in the past were prevented from meeting wonderful people.  They were prevented from making such lovely friends- friends that I know I couldn’t go a day without today.  This just shows that although the World still has such a long way to go, we have already come so far; proving that change is possible.  Admittedly, we should never have needed to campaign against things because they should never have existed in the first place.  All I can say is I am so grateful for all of those who fought for greater equality, and I will continue to be thankful as I have met my best friends because of them.  Having said that, I will continue to do my best to enforce greater equality, as I am more than aware that we need to improve a hell of a lot more.

Overall, I guess we have to work together.  It is no good letting people who are affected by the ignorance fight alone.  We must all work together- white people and people of colour alike, as this is the only way that ignorant hate will truly be eradicated.  I am so sorry for ignorant people and for the lack of representation in the media.  I am hoping that the education systems and media will be improved so that we can all learn to love and accept people for who they are; as well as learning about different cultures as a whole.  Keep on being the Kings/Queens that you are, as you all deserve to feel like it.

Did you relate to this? Do you have any questions? If so, write them in the comment section below- we would love to hear from you:)

If you would like to share your stories, experiences and opinions email us at oneisnotenough16@gmail.com.

Bless x

#Oneisnotenough TEAM

Twitter: @1isnotenough

“We have to make sure our kids have the unalienable right to feel beautiful in their own skin, no matter what shade it is.”

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THE MEDIA – – >  

When you think back to the TV shows you watched as a kid, you’ll probably remember waking up early on a Saturday to watch your favourite cartoon; laughing hysterically over the practical joke your favourite character pulled pretty much every single episode. It’s unlikely that you’ll remember how you responded to the media, how you absorbed it and it absorbed you. Who was your favourite character on TV growing up, and what was it about them that made you aspire to be everything they were? For me, those characters were pretty, white slim girls that were probably head of the cheerleading squad. Even the misfits, who we were supposed to identify with, were white- at best, with glasses and a “geeky” persona to show that they were indeed, “different.” Speaking of, you may recall the cast of High School Musical breaking out into song “stick to the status quo.” Dig your old soundtrack out if you have to, but the film hardly broke the status quo; pretty white (with a dash of Latino) girl gets together with a pretty white (with a dash of chiseled abs) guy. And the black kids, Chad and Taylor? (yeah, I had to google their names,) they were forever the sidekicks, unlucky in love and with nothing to offer but a skill for spinning a basketball on one finger and a sassy one liner about weaves. How boring. How tragic. How boring and tragic that this same narrative is repeated, where the black kids are always left behind, and never represented as beautiful or worthy of love. This is the language that became part of my cultural dialect. White was clever. White was beautiful. And if you were anything but, you only had a choice of stereotypes A and B to choose from, and growing up racially ambiguous, I had no clue which box to tick.

THE CURRICULUM – – > 

The stereotypes of coloured people in the media are essentially just a continuation of the way they have been represented throughout history, and the state of the curriculum today doesn’t show any signs of straying off the beaten track. My two favourite subjects in school were History and English. In hindsight, I should have taken a comfort in a more uncontroversial subject like math; maybe then I wouldn’t have been so damn frustrated by everything that was handed to me on a comic sans font worksheet.

I’m actually horrified that I never studied a non-white writer in English Literature. Race was reduced to a theme that was being mediated to me through a white tinted lens, and that was extremely damaging. It makes me feel sick to think of the amount of times we were expected to write “In this novel, black people are represented as inferior.” History was one in the same, in which historical events are seen as a story of heroes and victims. In this sense, unsurprisingly, black people were always treated as the victims. Slavery was mentioned in whispers yes, and I always remember feeling uncomfortable as the whole class turned around to look at me in silent pity. It felt like I was being made to feel ashamed of my own heritage, my own history. I knew all about Abraham Lincoln, but knew nothing about the likes of Fredrick Douglass. I was taught that Carol Ann Duffy was the ultimate “feminist poet” but knew nothing of Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Gwendolyn Brooks, or the dozens of other black female writers I’ve come to know and love in my awakening to a more colourful world.

The world I learnt about in school was black and white, it was dangerous. The white curriculum that I and so many other ethnic minority students were dragged through epitomises what feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie called “the danger of a single story*,” that is, that having a secular perspective is dangerous because it cuts you off intellectually from the world around you, no matter how often you travel to Spain or like to eat Indian food. The proportion of ethnic minority pupils in state funded schools has increased dramatically since 2014, and in order for them to succeed in an inclusive learning environment, the curriculum should aim to teach a broader, universal history in an increasingly globalised world.

BEAUTY – – > 

In an increasingly globalised world, you would think that our society, with a constant overlapping of cultures, races, religions, we would have a greater, more compassionate understanding of each other. If you are not blessed with the gift of optimism however, you will notice how life is moving so fast that often, someone’s appearance is the most convenient way in which to form a judgement of someone. Picture this; there’s a black guy walking down the street, he has a bunch of other black guys behind him. You saw a sitcom on CBS once refer to such people as “homies” before. They laugh loudly and seem to constantly be pulling their trousers up. You assume they must be selling drugs, so you walk to the other side of the road. Of course, there’s nothing hereditary in the human psyche that causes you to make these assumptions, so where did you get them from? If you guessed the media, you get a gold star. Any other answer renders you incapable of understanding what I have to say next. Just how the media paints all black dudes such as my aforementioned imaginary friend with the same brush, the media likes to paint white people with a brush that just happens to make you prettier. Remember the public outcry that accused L’Oreal of lightening Beyoncé’s skin for an ad? How about more recently, when a Japanese advert for washing powder showed a black man being thrown into the washer and coming out as a whiter than white Asian? Or, if you want to bring colourism into it, the fact that the light skinned Zoe Saldana used black face to play Nina Simone? These examples all boil down to the fact that historically, particularly during the colonial period, there has been a white European hegemonic ideal (I know; who knew right.) Thus, the closer to white you are, in this instance, the better, prettier, or more attractive you are made to seem.

I am mixed race, light skinned, or hey, just feel free to stick whatever label you want to my forehead and be done with it. Anyway, from the day I was old enough to say “NO YOU CANNOT TOUCH MY HAIR,” my visual appearance has been fetishized by everyone from grandmas to perverts in nightclubs. A girl behind me in a queue for a club said my hair was “fascinating” so many times I wanted to drown her in a vat of Smirnoff ice. I’m the poster girl for school prospectuses, and my mother and father are commended on countless occasions for the “beautiful” brown children they’ve managed to produce. My best friend and I are told that we “really should” be a couple on the basis that we are both mixed race, which, in other situation, would be a completely bizarre concept to base a relationship on. I’m not ignorant towards the tribulations of dark skinned women, but I can’t speak for them either. White people fetishize light skinned people because they represent an exotic ideal, the aesthetics of being black in the absence of its sociological burdens.

WHAT WE CAN DO; 

You may have notice how I’ve used arrows at the end of every sub heading in this article. It’s not because I’m trying to be original or outrageously indie, but because it represents how all these things; the media, the curriculum, how we define beauty, are undeniably linked. And this is where my degree in English Lit comes in handy. In the first instance, the fact that these issues are all connected is good, because it means we can discuss them much easier. However, when issues like these are so integrated, it makes them difficult to break apart; instead we just end up with a cycle of what we’ve become used to as the norm, a concept that makes us so dizzy that we can’t see what’s right in front of us- and that is that something has GOT to change.

We have to make sure the next generation of BAME students have access to an educational environment that supports others’ and their own understandings of themselves and their history.

We have to make sure the media uses its power for good and that the images it produces are just as colourful as the realities of the people it is trying to portray.

We have to make sure our kids have the unalienable right to feel beautiful in their own skin, no matter what shade it is.

I don’t have all the answers, but together, by just talking to one another about race and diversity, we have the power to change the world we live in. If you’re not sure where to go from here, you can start by waking up- look at the world around you, educate yourselves, watch the news- and then notice what’s missing from it. And then start to wake everyone else up, until we make so much noise that the people at the top of the pyramid can no longer sleep in peace.

There’s a semi colon at the end of this subheading. People often don’t know what to do with semi colons, or where to put them in a sentence. But semi colons are used by an author when they could have finished a sentence with a full stop, but have chosen not to. So don’t let this be the end of your story, because we’re not even halfway through it yet.

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Did you relate to this? Do you have any questions? If so, write them in the comment section below- we would love to hear from you 🙂

If you would like to share your stories, experiences and opinions email us at oneisnotenough16@gmail.com.

Bless x

#Oneisnotenough TEAM

Twitter: @1isnotenough