VOICES

Reflections On Growing Up Dark-Skinned

With these great light skinned people on either side of me it became a bit stressful at times when I was labelled as just "my mother's dark child".

29/01/2017 04:58 SAST | Updated 29/01/2017 04:58 SAST
shutterstock

I used to have a complex of being the darkest person in the family and always being likened to my father. I was the quiet, dark girl with untameable hair. A bit of an odd ball too. I could not and still cannot dance like other black children on the dance floor.

I also could not really get along with people the way my older sister, "the socialite", does. I would often meet up with people who would refer to me as the socialite's sister. And on the flip side of it all my little sister is a beauty, not that we are not all beautiful but she always makes sure to decorate herself, she kind of reminds me of a Christmas tree at times.

With these great light skinned people on either side of me it became a bit stressful at times when I was labelled as just "my mother's dark child" whilst my siblings had names, they had an identity of their own. I did not have an identity just a description of what I look like. No one around me took notice so I had to find my identity.

At some point I had moved from being just the dark one, I became the dark smart child. I have always been a fan of reading, my entire family is. But I read more than the others, it became a means of escaping my reality. So I knew more words and more stuff. Within the family I was my mother's golden child who was smart, but dark. To everyone else in the world I was just my mother's dark child.

I would worry about this and kind of retreat into myself at times when I would get home.

A couple of years later I went to a university that was far, far away from my family, town and friends. It is within this space that I was able to carve out who I was, it was almost like a fresh start but not really. The awkwardness within me never went away. But nonetheless, I was a person and it did not matter that I was dark.

It was a bit of conflict when I would come home because I was still not confident within myself and who I was. But I could not just be my mother's dark child. Always being the pleaser, I would worry about this and kind of retreat into myself at times when I would get home.

I found a way to be able to push people's opinions of me aside. I found a way to not be defined by who my siblings are and I actually started to not give two fucks about just being "my mother's dark child". I find it hilarious now when I reflect and I wish I could go back to the child I was, slap her silly and tell her to pull herself towards herself.