Youth Forward scholarship summer 2016 – “Society”

Name: Shirleyanna Davis
From: Baltimore, Maryland
Grade: College Sophmore
School: Morgan State University
Votes: 0

Growing up, society made me believe that my skin color was unattractive and incorrect. I would get ridiculed because of my dark skin and come home crying hysterically about my classmates teasing me, saying “I’m as black as the pavement I walk on”, “I would never get a husband because I’m so dark” or “My husband would never want to make a family with me because our kids would come out black like me.” At that moment I started to observe the self hatred within the
Black-American community. Not realizing how serious of an issue dark
skin was to some people, until I noticed that one of my classmate’s
skin tones changed from milk chocolate to a caramel macchiato shade
within weeks. One afternoon, I went to the bathroom during one of my
history class. While entering the restroom I witnessed the same
classmate using “Raya fading cream” like it was lotion. The cream
jar stated that it not only moisturizes your skin but also lightens
your skin tone. Shortly after, my eyes began to open to see how
severe the dislike for “dark skin” is.

In another incident, the church mother from my church, whom was of light reddish brown shade, kissed me on my cheek and told me how “blessed I am for being so beautiful to be this dark”. In addition, comments that have been given to me such as, “I am so pretty for a dark girl/black girl”. I began to notice that those “backhanded
compliments” were not completely insulting and can truly be
damaging to one’s self esteem, I became aware that I have been
labeled. Now, people have an idea of me before they even speak a word
to me, simply because of how dark my skin is. As a result, I decided
to try to overcome the label and illustrate that implying as well as
inferring something about me due to the darkness of my skin, will not
be acceptable.

What prompted me to act was the night I overheard my great grandmother say that my first cousin, who was light skin, has a beautiful wedding and family in store for her. Meanwhile, she mentions that I need to know my way around the kitchen and pursue my studies but not overshadow my future spouse. I became determined to prove not only to myself but also to others that, being dark skin is just as beautiful as any
other skin tone. By proving my belief, I started carrying myself with
a higher level of confidence, help other people with the same issues,
and when I am giving a back handed compliment, I politely correct the
person’s statement to form it into a true compliment. I still
attempt to overcome the label; I tend to feel awkward and almost
embarrassed when I’m asked to explore the topic in depth. However,
I would make this decision again if I had to. I am fully proud with
the decision I have made and aim to continue to challenge this belief
and changing hearts
.


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