Love, Your Black Skin

Summary: From childhood, many Black girls and boys find trouble in loving the skin they were born in. This Juneteenth, it is important for those born with this beautiful Black skin to take the time to see the beauty in their color. For those who need some reminding, I encourage you to check out “Pretty Brown Skin” by Maverick City Music and Eugene King. 

When I was 13 years old, a much older Black individual asked me if I ever wished I was white. This comment threw me so off guard, and frankly, made me angry. After becoming older and understanding more about the hardships of being Black in America, I can understand why this person would ask that, but it was just something that never crossed my mind. I will be honest and say that at 13 years old, I was pretty naive to the microaggressions, stereotypes, and outright racism that would come my way as I got older. So, maybe this is why I was so upset at this question. Years later, while I find myself not as angry with the question because I understand the trauma it was asked from, my answer remains the same- I would never want to be anything but Black. 

This lack of confidence or insecurity about oneself is something that many Black people face. We can observe this through experiments such as The Doll Test, where Black children were given white-skinned, light-skinned Black, and dark-skinned Black dolls and told to choose which doll was the meanest, prettiest, nicest, etc. The test found that on the norm, Black kids attributed negative and ugly attributes to dark-skinned dolls and positive, beautiful attributes to white-skinned dolls. What’s heartbreaking about this is that it was brown and dark-skinned children who were prescribing these attributes (other races were included in the experiment, this is just the most notable conclusion for this discussion). Another example that is minor but speaks volumes is the avatars Black children create in virtual world games. Growing up, I remember my Black friends always making their avatars white and looking nothing like them. While I didn’t think twice about this at seven years old, it became such a sad thought as I got older and looked back. Why did we do this? Why did we not want to be our authentic, Black selves?

It’s been discussed before in an ARCC newsletter how art can be used as a medium to fight racism. I’ve seen many types of Black art be used to display struggle, difficult realities, and issues in the Black community. What I don’t see as often is art that encourages and uplifts Black people, reminding them of how beautiful it is to be Black. 

This Juneteenth, I want to shed light on a very special song that shares a message that I think all Black women and men should hear. That is, “Pretty Brown Skin” by Maverick City Music featuring Eugene King, from the album Jubilee: The Juneteenth Edition. 

“Pretty, brown skin

 Pretty, light skin

 Pretty, dark skin

 I see African written in your DNA

 Hello choco-melanin from the motherland

 With your black skin

 Never should you want it any other way” (Maverick City Music &   Eugene King, 2021)

          “First things first

I’m blackity, black black

I’m blackity, black black

I’m blackity, black black

If you don’t like that, you’re wackity, wack wack

You’re wackity, wack–

I said what I said and that’s that (Ayy)” (Maverick City Music & Eugene King, 2021)

“Second things first

 Still blackity, black black

 Still blackity, black black

 Still blackity, black

 It’s a blessing not a curse

 Don’t ever forget that

 Don’t ever forget

 If you need reminders then run this back” (Maverick City Music & Eugene King, 2021)

The song goes on to affirm the richness of the Black experience, particularly for Black women, who are one of the most marginalized groups in the country. This song is so emotional and its message is one that everyone in its target audience should hear. I encourage you all to check it out, and, “remember who you are, and whose you are”, as the song says.  (Maverick City Music & Eugene King, 2021)

1. Maverick City Music & Eugene King. (2021). Pretty Brown Skin. On Jubilee: The Juneteenth Edition. Tribl Records.