For all the (dark skinned black) girls who think they’re too nice.
‘The thing is even when you were broke, you always used to act like you had more than you did, so I guess now life is just playing catch up.’ Remi laughed.
I too delighted in her giggle.
Perhaps with slight chagrin I look back and notice that it is true. So true in fact that when one of the girls who bullied me at school was asked as to why she had a problem with me in front of both of our parents, she shrugged and simply put it down to me thinking that I was ‘too nice.’ What did that even mean?
A little older and with deeper understanding on how colonised expectations seeps it’s way into our everyday lives without us noticing, I too now see how my confidence (although I didn’t yet know what it was) did not match my physical being. I often say that the way I am physically has for thousands of years dictated that I am unloveable and I should fully understand how I am not ‘the shit’ and my attitude should match that.
These falsehoods are reiterated by the media and data. Take Love Island for example. Now I’ve only ever watched one episode so I admit that I’m not the most qualified nor have I undertaken serious research but from that single viewing session combined with lurking on Twitter, the general consensus seemed to be that vast majority of audiences didn’t know why black women applied to even be on the show, because they were never ‘picked’, so to speak. And why else would you go on a show rooted purely in vanity and hyper sexualised hysteria to only be treated like the bottom go the barrel? Compound this with some data released by dating app, Bumble which outlines that black women are the penultimate choice of desirable mate overall but definitely the last resort when it comes to women, it helps to highlight how undesirable the western world think Black women are. This article written in April in this year titled ‘Why dark-skinned black girls like me aren’t getting married’ helps sadly illustrate a long standing truth.
Of course I couldn’t speak about this topic without touching on colourism. At a dinner some time ago, two lighter skinned black women giggled about the men that they perceived to fancy them because of their ‘light skin and light eyes’. There was a perceived ‘I am better than you because I am light skinned’ entwined into the chiming sound of their laughter and it sat beneath my skin like an irritant. Hastily I snatched up my glass of Prosecco and tried to file their joke away as ignorance but it lingered with me just as it did when teenage boys on the number two bus mocked me every day for being too ‘Blick.’
Whilst these lessons aren’t unique to my personal prepubescent and teenage years, I think the fact that I found other ways to inflate my chest perhaps is.
It wasn’t until my early twenties that I found conviction in doubling down on all that I wasn’t and learned to live boldly within a body that for years had been written off as unworthy. But for some reason those glimmers of confidence had begun to blossom long before that and it seemed I had a way of pissing people off.
‘You know why I rate you’ a peer said one lunchtime
‘I rate you because even though you look how you do, you still just have something about you which is undeniable. It is annoying though.’
She literally said that. With her entire chest. And my immature ass took that as a compliment.
I also have to acknowledge how both my father and maternal grandfather were unrelenting in their cheering for me.
‘Honestly your skin Cand!’ my dad would say whenever we met
‘Your skin is something else! Don’t ever do any nonsense to yourself, do you understand?’ His tone flip flopping between and east end accent and patois as if to reiterate his seriousness.
‘Where is the beauty queen?’ my grandad would shout whenever I went to visit him.
Having these black men be verbally forthright about the beauty they saw in me did a lot for the young woman who was having a hard time seeing beauty in herself. Now whether they knew that the world was poised to try and trip me up before I’d even tried to run, who knows. But I will say that i am grateful for their sporadic compliments.
Colourism has had such an alarming affect on my life that I have already begun to think about the kinds of conversations I will have with my own daughter. She’s a lot lighter than me and at five, I’ve already had to pull her up for incorrectly believing that because I am the darkest in the house, that I am sad about it. When pressed, it’s clear that she cannot communicate why she even thinks I would be upset but I know this is an ongoing dialogue her and I will engage in until she is much older.
But for now as Remi said, things have come full circle. If you’ve engaged with my content long enough, you will know how committed I am to the Law of Attraction and I’m currently reading this book which reminds me how the LOA is more about a feeling than anything else. I have no doubt that I’m able to attain my personal and professional goals because I’ve spent years mastering how to win, even though on genetic make up alone, my starting block was miles behind everyone else’s. Social media has made it easier for women who look like me to find safe spaces to talk about our experiences with colourism and the effects of beauty hierarchy whilst simaltaneously lifting each other up. But funnily enough women who look like me who are often chastised for thinking ‘too much’ of themselves because they are being measured against euro centric beauty ideals usually then go on to be too much. For anyone.
And yet here I am. Perhaps living a life way beyond the dreams of those who wrote me off because I wasn’t light skinned.
Doting faithful man? Check
Cute kids? Check
Made it out the ‘hood’? Check
And all whilst not pandering to all of the plentiful tools available to dilute how black I am. It isn’t often that I toot my own horn, but even I have to give myself some props for this one. And while all of the things listed don’t equal a happy life, I’ll be frank in saying that something seemingly as simple and as unproblematic as being dark skinned could to many people mean that I wasn’t entitled to the things listed above. But not only did I do it, plus more, but I continue to do so.
Candice, you are too nice after all. You are too nice for other people’s bullshit.
But I will also add that what I’ve taken to now be a unique selling point within my career and the things which give me the most joy, I also see it a as a major blocker. I’m often asked why my social media following isn’t bigger and I’ve now taken to being just as brash with my response.
‘Because my man isn’t white and my children do not have green eyes. There is nothing to fetishise. I am black. Full black. And that is boring.’
And I stand by this. whilst taking nothing away from dark skinned women who marry white men (i only exclusively dated white men before Papa B, so I get it) their individual talents aside, themselves and their families instantly become more marketable because they are with a white counterpart. Where those who engage with my content may tire with always having to go off and do the work, their is a comfort in engaging with someone who looks like you even if it is their significant other. But I believe that the visuals of a dark skinned nuclear family are so very important that i will continue to use my own family unit as an example, no matter who it offends or puts off.
RemI and I went back and forth on the young women we knew who had too befallen that tag line and now at least from an outside perspective, their lives matched their ‘too much’ ambience.
And the people who verbally and sometimes physically dragged them for acting above their station?
They seem to be struggling to live their best lives.
So this is just a note for all the women but especially the black women whose skin has a depth more likened to molasses than sand and whose hair tightens in knots and doesn’t fall in a soft wave.
I demand that you have a ‘too nice’ attitude.
I implore you to carry yourself like the queen you are no matter the vitriol that comes your way.
I encourage the wearing of your invisible crown until not if but when you are decorated with a real one because the confidence you utilise now will keep you safe until you’ve constructed a life outside of the perameters that small minds have built for you.
And the next time someone tells you that you think you’re too nice, you turn to them and let them know that if they think this is something, they ain’t seen nothing yet.