Monday, June 24, 2013

Straight from a "Dark Girl's" Mouth

This afternoon, I finally got around to watching "Dark Girls," the much talked about documentary exploring colorism and prejudices against dark-skinned women. Being that I'm one of the few people in the universe who doesn't have cable, I initially had no plans on watching it; however, after reading the rather interesting commentary from Facebook and Twitter I decided to take a peek and see what all the fuss was about. While I sympathize with some of the painful reflections that the women in the documentary described, as a dark-skinned woman, I honestly couldn't relate to any of their experiences. Maybe I grew up under a rock, but my skin color was something that never really crossed my mind. I always knew that I was beautiful,  and from the time I was old enough to walk I was taught to enter a room as if I owned it, and not to entertain   anything that suggested otherwise. The idea of having unshakable confidence in my beauty was not something I learned from being told. It was something I learned from watching and observing. The women in my family come in a variety of hues, from my lighter-skinned grandmother to my darker-skinned youngest aunt, and all shades of brown in between. Regardless of their skin tone, the one thing they all had in common was a confidence and regality in the way they carried themselves...a sense of esteem that made people sit up and take notice when they walked into a room. And fortunately for me, I didn't just see confident dark-skinned women in my family. I saw them in my church and in the hallways of my elementary school, demonstrating for me day in and day out that having that "It Factor" had nothing to do with your skin tone; when you know in your own mind that you're "all that," the world can't help but to think so too.

To me, one of the first steps in repairing the rift of colorism is in shaping the minds of our young ladies. There is nowhere that I'm more cognizant of that than in my role as a teacher and mentor. Everyday that I step into my classroom, I try to model for my female students self-confidence in action, the same way that my mother, grandmother, aunts, teachers, and other women I knew growing up modeled it for me. Our girls (and not just dark-skinned girls, but ALL girls) must be taught to own their beauty, regardless of what society, the media, the opposite sex, or people within their own race tell them. That lesson starts with us as women.

So ladies of color, no matter where you are or what you may be doing, hold your head high, square your shoulders back, and put that "I know I'm the shit" sway in your walk, regardless of your skin tone. Some little "dark girl" you don't even know just might be watching.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Are You Really Instagram Flexin' in Church Though? Please Smack Yourself, Then Proceed to the Nearest Exit.

So let me start off by saying that in church, I am typically not the kind of person who pays attention to what other people are doing, wearing, singing, talking about, etc. For me, worship is the ultimate personal opportunity to come to a holy place with other like-minded people and reflect on and rejoice over the goodness of God, despite my flawed humanness. Put simply, I'm there for no other reason than to get my praise on and to hear a good word that I can apply to my own life. Today, however, was a little bit different. At my church (as is the case in many churches), we observe the Lord's Supper through the practice of Holy Communion on first Sundays. For most believers, it is a sacred time to privately acknowledge and confess your sins, and reflect on Jesus's ultimate sacrifice of death on the cross for the remission of those sins. Normally during this time, I am in head-bowed-eyes-closed mode. But alas, the devil was busy. At one point he taps me on the shoulder. I happen to look up, and am quite startled by what I see. The woman sitting directly in front of me has her iPad out, and is taking pictures of herself (duck lip, peace sign, and all), then proceeding to upload them on Instagram. I scrunch my face, and my mind yells out a full blown "What the hell?!?" followed by "Lord forgive me for that, but is this really happening right now?" I look on for another minute or two out of sheer curiosity, in an attempt to make sure that my eyes aren't deceiving me. After being sure that they weren't, I asked the Lord to forgive me once more for being distracted, and turned my attention back to worship. 

Maybe I'm just trippin', but am I the only person who thinks its absolutely not okay to Facebook, Tweet, text, Instagram, etc. while in church? I get that social media has become a huge part of our everyday existence, but at what point do we set boundaries for its use? Have we become so self-absorbed that not even God requires our undivided attention? Don't get me wrong, I am just as guilty as the next person of whipping out my phone and tweeting/Facebooking everyday experiences instead of really being fully present in the moment, a habit that I'm working to break myself out of. At the same time, I have enough common sense to recognize that in some moments (i.e. church) the presence of social media is just not appropriate. But different strokes for different folks, I suppose. And based upon that logic, I will step down from my soapbox and end my judgmental tirade here. But one more thing before I go...

To the woman who was sitting in the pew in front of me "on Instagram straight flexin,' " this side-eye is for you: