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My Hair, My Skin, My Soul, My Identity

September 15, 2008

A much covered and favourite topic of mine as many should know. This morning I came across an interview regarding an American documentary called The Souls of Black Girls. This documentary extends on W.E.B. Dubois identification of the duality of a Black American, as essentially separate things. Daphne Valerius turns this into a triality of being Black, American and a Woman. I haven’t seen the documentary, and it seems to be on release in the US as well as at specific film screenings but I’m going to try and do some digging to see if it is available here in the UK.

In the trailer, I have to say Chuck D rounds it all up perfectly. He says “We (the media) tell you what you can be….if you get confused, we will sell you something to unravel you, sell it to you, but we’re not giving it away for free”. At the nice round figure of £yoursoul.99. And women will pay it and more. We don’t know how to say no to such a fantastic offer.

I was reminded of a short that I was sent last year where a student re-created the Brown vs The Board of Education research in 2006 and guess what? 50 years on, black children still want to play with the ‘white’ doll, they still refer to it as the nice doll. When asked why the black doll is bad, they say it’s because it’s black. Simple, no confusion. They don’t know any different.

When these kids grow up, it becomes less simple, more confusing, they know what they are becoming, but they still wonder about what is good, what is bad, what they can do to look more like the good and less like the bad, more white and less black. Except even that isn’t clear anymore, it’s not about looking white, its about looking better while being black, looking more modern and less FOB (fresh off the boat). More civilised and less country. A big pile of rotten sh*t and we buy it by the truckload.

I’m a woman, I’m black, I’m dark skinned, I have a round figure, I have natural afro hair, I’m a first generation African, I eat with my hands (or I’m trying to at least!) and I am beautiful.

I might have to repeat it to myself 50 times a day for the rest of my life to counter the effects of peer pressure, media attack and the dreaded self hate, but I’m up for the challenge!

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