Ever since birth, all I have known was being black and growing up a certain way. My struggle is being black, but also I am dark and that is certainly not as acceptable in society compared to someone with fair skin. I was raised in the “hood” but my mom always separated us from it. I guess Sir Francis Galton’s theory of nature vs. nurture was correct. We lived in the hood, but we didn’t adapt to the behavior of the hood. My siblings and I were mainly told to either stay inside or go in the backyard protected by our tall, brown security fence. We went to a mainly white church that had token blacks attending but I don’t remember seeing them attend often. I had white friends, I was the one token black friend. Even though I was the token black friend, I felt like the literal black sheep of the group and didn’t feel fully accepted by them. I was always built thicker and muscular and couldn’t “borrow” clothes because I have always been thicker. I would always feel judged. Before I was home schooled, because my mom had strong beliefs in nature vs. nurture theory, I went to good ole’ traditional public school, I attended from kindergarten until 4th grade, I naturally made some friends. I was pretty much friendly towards everyone, eager to build friendships. I had two black friends who were girls, but that ended rather abruptly when they decided they didn’t like me and wanted to make fun of me and my entire existence. Their attitudes were so intense I was baffled by their reasoning to no longer be friends or friendly for that matter. Bunch of black boys were either okay with my presence, being awkward around me or would make fun of me like the other black girls that I considered once a friend. I was teased and bullied for the same exact thing, which is being dark, having a gap, and bucked teeth. I didn’t understand as some were dark like me too, but rejected it by saying they were a shade lighter, or they were thinner than me which made their darkness more acceptable. I began to hate my dark complexion and always wanted to be lighter, like my mom. My mom is light-skinned, so much as when she gets cold her nose turns bright red. This is the direct result of coming from mixed parents. My dad, was darker than me, and I always wondered why I didn’t come out lighter than my dark complexion. Why me? Why was a chosen to be dark and automatically not accepted? Was this an infinite curse? Or was I under a spell since birth? When I first began home school, I was in fifth grade, and damaged from the words of my white elementary school teacher who told the entire 4th grade class that I was sure to fail, because I couldn’t understand the subject of math. My thoughts were she wasn’t competent enough to teach it and adapt to my learning style. I remember it took me a long time to build up my self-esteem from that experience. My brother and sister were four grades ahead of me, and I home schooled alone in my room. I was video home schooled and sometimes yearned to have regular social interaction. My interactions consisted of two hours, twice a week but was such a short-lived friendship because we lived about 45 minutes away from church and no social interaction until Wednesday for Bible study. I didn’t mind solitude, still don’t but the fact that I couldn’t fully relate to any of my friends because I was the dark token black friend and the rest related to each other because they lived closer to one another and had the same complexion. Years passed, and my teenage arrived, we switched churches, and I was confined to my room because it seemed no one that was my age wanted to be friendly. They didn’t have “youth services” that I could fit in because again everyone knew each other and the black crowd didn’t accept me, but I blame it on my awkwardness and my love for heavy metal and alternative rock. Concerned that I had a non-existent social life and it would heavily affect my self-esteem, my mom researched and found a home-school group that I could attend every other week. I actually met teenagers that wanted to be my friend, but I was forced to play the same role as before, the token black friend. I was their friend to a certain extent until they started discussing matters that I couldn’t relate to, like hair, tanning, or being a size 0. Again, the question came to me why did I have to be black and not like my white counterparts? Was having dark-skin a menace to society and why am I chosen to automatically become the menace when I wasn’t given the choice to contest. Up until about 2 years ago, I didn’t pay attention to what was going on with the black community and I wasn’t in tune with myself. I was at a loss, always trying to seek the approval of white people somehow and to become more appealing and less “ghetto” to them. My wish was to be a part of a society that didn’t accept my existence because of my skin color. I wanted to turn my back on my woven rich culture when the group of people I wanted to be accepted by have turned their back on me. I had an awakening, I was blessed, resurrected from confusion, I was able to find myself. Once I started seeking the truth about my own culture, I didn’t want to stop. I wanted to be fully invested in my culture. I was learning more about black issues, the perils that blacks faced and overcame. The discovery of how beautiful my natural, curly kinky hair was one of the best experiences. During my journey of finding myself, I began to fall in love with myself and started to question why would someone reject my melanin when it has value and history. I began to not care what others thought of my dark and began to celebrate it and reject the negativity that comes with being black. Even though my culture is beautiful, I can’t be blind to the fact that blacks are being mistreated, killed, disrespected and ultimately unequal. Recent victim Ahmaud Arbery was killed for being a black man that looked “suspicious” while jogging by white supremacists. White men and women bringing guns with them to protest because they don’t want to be on lock down anymore but the black protesters of Ferguson, Missouri were without guns, protesting peacefully were killed. Why are blacks always the target or deemed the criminal and whites are the innocent bystander? Is it safe for me to enjoy a walk outside without being berated? When will it be my turn to comfortably walk in the store and not be followed because my skin color is deemed dangerous. Will there ever be justice for my people? When will it be safe to be this dark?

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Naomi Summerville

Naomi Summerville

Writing is the one of the best ways to express myself. I enjoy writing poems the most. I am excited to share what I have kept hidden for so long.