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Being on this planet for about 40 years, I had a lot of different things I went through growing up. Being a black girl with natural red head and light skin was considered somewhat of an anomaly during the 70s. My mom is light skin and my father is dark skinned. My mother was hoping she would have a brown skin baby but DNA is a muthafucka. From birth, I was treated differently. The nurses in the hospital told my mom about how the racist nurse made it her mission to take care of me because she thought I was someone's Irish baby. I mean I came out paler than my mom expected and then to have a full head of flaming red hair. Talk about different. Once that nurse found out my family was black, she couldn't hand me over fast enough to my mom and stomp away as the other nurses just laughed at her.
From the beginning, even without knowing it privilege raised its head. Now while privilege may not necessarily be a bad thing, acknowledgment of it is the first step of seeing where you fit in society. I went to a grade school with everyone of different nationalities and our teachers were from the Caribbean so my learning experience was extremely fulfilling. While I did get made fun of by my classmates, it was kept to a minimum. After all we were small classes and my teachers were not tolerating that ish. I was very much introverted when is was younger and so I was really quiet when I got teased. After all, I wasn't really taught to stand up for myself because you had to deal with the slings and arrows of people. People will always have some ish to say. That is life.
I learned late in life that being quiet does have its advantages. One, I learned to watch people and learn how people function. Their mannerisms and their body language. It has helped me find my way in the world. I then became the quietest loud person you ever met. I would speak and then not say another word. As my grandmother would call me "the voice of reason". I realized I can use my voice for when I need to. I didn't have to be loud to get my point across. But once again, I learned exactly what this package that the lord and DNA blessed me meant in society. I mean in high school people would accuse me of being too loud and then I realized they just didn't like me because of my skin tone. Once I realized that fact, I made friends easier. Again it could have been part personality and part what I look like. I always tried my best to get to know people as best as I can. Ask the questions that hopefully aren't too personal until I actually can call them friends. The friends who I could talk to about almost everything and not really be judged. Believe me, I have thought about what I look like to most in almost every interaction I have no matter how minuscule. I have had people ask me if one of my parents are white, ask if my hair is naturally red or strawberry blonde if you prefer and of course the icing on the proverbial cake if I am really that tall. Oh yes , I stand about 6'1" in flat feet. I would say I got hit with the triple whammy and it took about 25 years to actually not care about it. I got used to the questions and the surprised expressions.
Now I said all that to say, I get my light skin privilege. Sadly, I knew it since birth. I have seen how people have acted and supposedly me being the "safe black." Yeah I have heard that. It amazes me how people talk when they think they feel so "comfortable" with you. I am fully aware of my brown and dark skinned black people and horrible issues and plights they have had to suffer based on the levels of ignorance ingrained in society. I do not let them suffer in silence but my voice at most times they do not want to hear. I have heard that I am not black enough so you don't get it and realistically I truly do not. I am not however I ever been ignorant of this fact. I have also heard the light skin jokes about us being sensitive and how light skin guys make bs facial expressions in pictures. I have also heard about dark skin men wanting to only date light skin or white women so they can have light skin babies. I have heard all the self hate among black people and I know we still have strides to go. I will say that I have learned through years to just be comfortable in my skin. I grew up in New York so my skin always had to be tough. I learned to deal with the slings and arrows thrown my way. I also learned that I was and never will be better than any other person. Your work ethic and dedication to your life is the difference you can make. I have seen people pave their own lanes and being so ridiculously happy to see that they created their opportunities.
But I don't sit here and go woe is me for my light skin. I can't control it and I can't control what people think of me. All I can do is continue to love myself as fully as I can and be as supportive as I can to causes that affect black people as a whole. I will use my voice only when it truly makes sense to and always feel a sense of pride within my own black community.