HOW IT STARTED VS. HOW IT’S GOING!!!!
When I was born the story is told that my paternal grandmother made the comment, if she stays that color she will be beautiful. There it was COLORISM being spoken over me before I even knew who I was.
In the Black Community COLORIST comments are often the first words spoken over our children. My grandmother’s comments aren’t unusual in our community. Family members assign value to black babies the day they are born. A great many grandmothers, mothers, aunties inspect and imprint a skin tone based value on black babies in the hospital before they even make it home. Konrad Lorenz, the psychologist known for his work on imprinting, shares that we are powerful in shaping our children’s psyche’s at birth. The goal is to be aware that this happens and to interrupt the pattern laid down since the days of slavery by blocking and diverting colorist imprinting of your infant. Family members scan the following parts of the black baby’s body: Hair texture(texturism), The nose and lips(featurism), The ears, knuckles and knees (Colorism). If this color is darker than the rest of the baby’s skin, the well-ingrained belief is that those areas are a strong indicator of how dark the baby will become. It’s believed that the rest of the infant’s body will darken up to match those areas. Sadly, prayers have been sent up to stop this from happening! “I hope he doesn’t get too dark!”
COLORISM gets its origin from slavery. My ancestors were raped by their slave masters/owners the product of these rapes were children with a variation of Hair textures(texturism), facial features(featurism), and skin tones(colorism). This monstrosity was used to create a color divide/hierarchy scheme among slaves. We call it house n***er, and the field n***er. Slavery was started in 1619, and officially abolished January 31, 1865 under the 13th amendment. Unfortunately, 402 years after the start of slavery, and 156 years post abolishment, our community is still suffering with the issue of COLORISIM.
Because we were broken, and taught to forget our true identities as Kings and Queens, we have adapted to the mindset of our colonizers-“white is right”. For many African Americans proximity to whiteness is the ultimate measure of success. They have really succeeded in stripping us of our identity to the point that it is almost impossible for us to see ourselves through the eyes of Africa, and behold the splendor of beautiful black and brown skin with the 4C hair, and fiery eyes”
And that occurs precisely because this country was built on principles of racism. It cannot be overstated that if racism didn’t exist, a discussion about varying skin tones would simply be a conversation about aesthetics. But that’s not the case. The privileging of light skin over dark is at the root of an ill known as colorism.
Dictionary.com defines Colorism as differential treatment based on skin color, especially favoritism toward those with a lighter skin tone and mistreatment or exclusion of those with a darker skin tone, typically among those of the same racial group or ethnicity.
Alice Walker, was the 1st person to give it a name, and would deem colorism worthy of study since its effect is keenly felt by black women due to its ties to perceived attractiveness, femininity and sexuality. But what had kept black people from naming it for so long, and what keeps us from talking about it now? The history of this denial was a driving question for me.
Spoiler alert- I didn’t stay the color my grandmother wanted me to. I became a beautiful brown skin little girl, dark skin black woman. I am proud of the Melanin (the root of what gives color to skin, hair, eyes and everything imaginable that is creative and colorful-IT’S MAGIC) God has blessed me with.
Mark Twain said “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born, and the day you find out why. Have you ever been placed in a position of influence to affect someone in a positive way or make a significant difference in the life or lives of others? Were you afraid to leverage that power because of potential consequences? But, no matter how much you tried to ignore it and pretend it was not there, something on the inside of you knew you had to do something!
Esther, a woman in the Bible, found herself in such a predicament. She had just been made queen over the Persian Empire. Esther was asked to go before the King to discuss a matter that had been brought to her attention, and to save God’s people. She was in a position of great influence but was scared to move. Her cousin Mordecai responded to her by saying, “Don’t think for a moment that because you’re in the palace you will escape when all other Jews are killed. If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this” (Esther 4:13-14 NLT)?
“For such a time as this.”
It’s a phrase tossed around frequently, often without much thought to the original meaning or context in which it was said. It can mean: special, chosen or royal. Many people even quote Mordecai’s rebuke to Esther as a life-verse representing power and favor. You’ll see merchandise and social media posts that proudly state, “for such a time as this.”
But what did this phrase really mean?
When we look at the life of Esther throughout the book titled in her name, this phrase actually refers to Esther being rebuked for her self-indulgent, self-preserving mindset. In today’s language, we might call that being “shot down” for having narcissistic tendencies! Mordecai reproved Esther for living large and embracing royalty over righteousness — selfies over service. Through those telling words, he reminded her she had been chosen to set her own interests aside, let go of her own ambitions, and face an enemy full-on.
She was to risk her life and her legacy with no guarantees of a positive outcome. That’s the “for such a time as this” Mordecai challenged Esther to accept.
Esther was given a position of power to actually make a difference and save the lives of the Jewish people. She wrestled with whether or not she could actually carry out Mordecai’s request because she thought about herself dying. Yet, despite the fear that tried to overcome her, she stepped forward with courage and went to the king.
God has given each of us a job, position, resources, education and more. God has opened opportunities to optimize His kingdom purposes. He didn’t place you or me where we are so we could eat fruits all day long or post pictures on social media. He’s placed us wherever we are because we are in the midst of a battle, a war. You and I are in the midst of a profound conflict involving good versus evil.
Esther was raised up for such a time as this. In a similar way, God has given me influence through my personal experiences with COLORISM to help nurture and encourage a generation to see themselves through the eyes of Africa, and not as a colonized people. I too was fearful, and felt inadequate to fulfill the purpose to which God had called me to. Unsure if my voice could make an impact of such a monumental assignment. To miss a kingdom assignment because of fear, or we’ve become too caught up in our personal kingdom is one of the greatest tragedies we could ever face. DarksinAscendingWomen’sNetwork