I wrote this poem (Black and Proud, edited by the late David Mungoshi) in 2014 during one of the worst periods of my life in SA. I was married to a South African man who physically, emotionally and verbally abused me. Home was hell for me and my kids but work was worse as the learners and some of the teachers subjected me to COLOURISM. I was made fun of and ridiculed all because of my dark complexion…. Walking in town was traumatic as society deemed it necessary to make fun of me because of my dark skin.
My late mother told me that I was born dark in complexion. Should I now change the colour of my skin to please people who will make fun of me after my dark turns to light, because that’s exactly what they did just before I decided to stop bleaching.
One of my friends said that there’s no such thing as colourism but, if these things happen, should they not be given a name? Denying their existence will not make them disappear.
Colourism or whatever you want to call it is real. A few days ago, someone called me ‘black mamba’. We get this all the time, so-called friends and family call us names in the name of ‘I’m just joking‘.
I have healed. I really don’t care what people think about me anymore, although sometimes I have moments of anger towards God for this complexion. I feel like He made a terrible mistake to give us complexions that will cause us to be harassed and ridiculed. Complexions that will make us feel ugly and worthless. Sometimes I shout at Him, demanding answers, why? Would did you bother creating me if I would have a complexion that will make people stare at me in utter disgust? Before anyone can judge the people who bleach their skins, just walk first in their shoes.
Do you think ‘pitch black‘ is a derogatory way of describing a person? Why not just say, dark in complexion?
Last year, I wrote Free Your Mind which is not always easy. Some days I am strong but some days I need someone to remind me that I am strong. Many people especially in South Africa, where bleaching creams are found at every corner are not strong enough to endure ridicule. Being dark skinned is like having leprosy. Some turn to bleaching, who can blame them? However, bleaching is not a solution as there are side effects. I know it’s easier said than done but, self love is the answer because if there’s no enemy within, the enemy without can do us no harm.
If you have a dark skinned child, take time to find out if they’re not being victimised at school or in the community.
Have you been a victim of colourism? Send your story to email@example.com or get in touch with Afrique Beat News on Facebook.
They say black is beautiful but, reality speaks otherwise.