16 Feb 2017

REPOST: THE WOR{D}S THEY CALLED MY SKIN

Eyes like stars
in the  beauty of the night! (Theodora O. Agyeman-Anane)



You have lovely dark skin. There is a shine to it which reminds  me of the colour purple. My grandmothers and mother complimented my skin. These words made me strong like seeds in the soil turning into strong and tall trees. And just like a tree it was difficult for the bullies to break me when they started to attack my skin colour.
Growing up in Ghana, for what I can remember, it was a bliss. Well people called me names because I was too skinny and looked like a boy. But I always saw the glass half full. I didn’t mind having my school teacher call me ONE because he said my face was thin as the number. 
On the other hand the boys wanted to play with me because I looked like one of them. Not so pretty and delicate like the other girls whom had ribbons in their hair. In my opinion every disadvantage came with another advantage.

Then I moved to Italy and the power of words started to make sense to me. The worse period was the last year of middle school – age 13/14 – after which I decided to take a break from my education.
I was not called names because of my weight, I was normal healthy weight and I looked like a girl. But what I had different from all of my classmates was the colour of my skin. My skin became a tool of derision.
The girls were envious because I don’t have hairy arms. The guys and some other people out of school called me all kind of degrading names just for their own amusement. Simple words as: Kaffir, negra, imbianchino (literally translated white-washer), pipistrello (bat), mora (dark girl) and when they wanted to be friendly they called me bella moretina (beautiful little dark girl). I didn’t even know the meaning of some words until I went home to look in the dictionary.
Their words made me wonder would I still be beautiful if I wasn’t mora? Am I beautiful because I am mora? Or am I beautiful because I am a beautiful girl! I always resolved that I am a beautiful girl – full stop.
However, there were months I couldn’t see the glass half full. I managed to pass my exams and get out of that horrible experience. Also that experience helped me love my skin colour even more, and made me feel proud for my background and my life experience. But I don’t wish anyone to go through that period in their lives.

QUESTION: Have you ever had any bad experience in life due to your skin colour, gender, religion or simply for being yourself?

Please share with me :).

Note: First published 25 Jan 2012

26 comments:

  1. Growing up, I was the only African American student in my school, from 5th grade through high school. Some of the kids in my school would try to "compliment" me by saying things like, "You'd be pretty if you were white." All I thought was, "What kind of h*ll statement was that?!" It was a pretty tough time for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sharon thank you for sharing your experience with me.

      Delete
  2. I'm so glad you don't live in the south of the US. One thing I'm constantly battling being a parent here is trying to raise my children to see people for who they are and not the color of their skin. Of course you know the history of this part of the world, and the state we just moved to is even more "southern" than Texas. For some reason, I don't have the mindset a lot of my family has tried to pass down to me, and I think that the main reason is just because I love God and see all people as His equal children.

    Anyway, on to your question. I was part of a military program in college that was made up of about 2,000 members and only 7% were women. It gave me a completely different insight in to prejudice and how it can make a person feel. I was told a lot of things because I was a woman in a male dominated organization. I feel I'm much stronger today because of my experiences though and wouldn't trade it for anything.

    I won't get in to the comments made to me as a child about my weight and curly hair. I could write a book! ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh and to add for AOI, my favorite children's book I've found in regards to this (I've searched for quite a few!) is:

    Whoever You Are by Mem Fox

    Try to find a copy for AOI. It's such a sweet book and communicates the importance of love between all peoples and nations.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Mama E, you are amazing always so thoughtful. Thank you for the title, I am going to the library, I will ask if they have it.

      Delete
  4. Hey where you listening on Team Pancakes convo last night....Mr. Pancakes and I had a debate about this very topic because a little kid said I had a brown skirt on and black skin which left me wondering is my skin really black or brown?! And why is a four year old comments bothering me so much. Needless to say it made for an interesting conversation! We both decided that our children would have beautiful skin regardless oh whether they choose a black or brown crayon to colour their skin tone! Great convo lady!,

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh and I totally love that the word you chose to describe your skin is beautiful!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh and the Brown/Black debate is something that i keep returning to it, I might a post on it ;)

      Delete
  6. Growing up, my family was the only black family in the neighborhood. I did not understand the remarks that my "friends" would make at the time when I was really young. I was constantly teased. At school, my black friends would call me white girl, African booty scratcher, and a whole lot more. At home my neighbors would call me black girl, negro, and such. Even today, my children are called pretty brown girls. So I have been teased because my parents are African, because I was black and living in a nice neighborhood, because I talked different, because I wasn't "ghetto", and just for being me. Thank goodness none of it got to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Mama for sharing with us. I am so sorry people teased you for just being yourself. I don't get it when some people stereotypically think colour defines a person. I am me because of my personality not because of my skin tone. I am glad that your experience made you stronger and get to you.

      Delete
  7. toi...your gorgeous!!

    i am white as white can be, and have never been looked down upon for that (the sad truth of racisim). however, growing up i was gangly and lanky. i had many people accuse me of anorexia (no one says that now, as i'm "normal").

    i've had doctors pull my mom aside and question her brutally.
    i've had people in grocery store lines say things like, "you're buying food??!"-yes they were complete strangers.
    i've had people approach me in gyms and say things like, "this gym is only for people who eat."-again, a total stranger.

    people hate what they don't understand and they look down on what they'll never be and they take advantage of the vulnerable.

    thanks for being such an encouragment in the "glass if half full" department.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Twiggy, thank you, you are too kind.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with me. people can be so cruel, judging you without knowing your history and approaching you to tell you those hurtful worse. you are right "people hate what they don't understand".

      Delete
  8. Oh yeah. I was always too skinny, too tall, too dark and then too light. There's no pleasing people. Luckily, like you, I had family that helped to build my self-confidence so it made it a little harder to be torn down. Thanks for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "here's no pleasing people." this phrase reminds me of a song one of great uncles used to sing to me whatever one does, one cannot please everybody.

      Delete
  9. The way I talked was too proper...I didn't understand why my vocabulary and enunciating my words kept me from fitting in.

    I think you are beautiful by the way, inside and out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Alida for sharing with me :).

      Delete
  10. I'm so glad that you were able to persevere and love yourself in spite of how you treated by your classmates. That was so thoughtful and personal TOI

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thinking about it I believe their comments have influenced my writing.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I haven't had a lot of negative experiences DIRECTLY, but sometimes indirectly I can feel the disdain at my dark skin. In Canada, I had the comments too about the hairless arms which was...different. I had one boyfriend who had to "explain" me to his family, lol. Here in Holland, maybe 1/2 incidents, but nothing major, thank god. BTW, congrats on the birth of your baby.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Toi, I'm a little late to the discussion but the subject will what it seems forever be an issue in our society. Like all the ladies above have like Hummingloon I never experienced it directly. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood, & the city I grew up in had a main strip of stores from cafe's, clothing stores you name it. It was one store in particularly I use to visit all the time. I cannot remember being called anything indifferent about my skin color but I do remember being a kid going into that particular store & right away the store attendent would rush up to me & ask if they could help me. She would follow me around the store ( even after I would say politely "No Thank You" ) till I left. I never noticed them doing the same when someone non black came in the store after me or before. I'm happy to say that after awhile this store closed down or they moved out of the niegborhood because a lot of people must of boycott the store. After I told my mom about it each time I went in there she told me not to go back which I didn't. Although our experiences weren't quite the same I can truly relate to what you went thru & I thank you for sharing your experience with us. I also wanted to let you know I have been following your blog & I simply love it. Your photography brings me in as if I am there seeing all the wonders of your children growing as well as the beautiful places you photograph. Thanks so much for sharing your life with us all here. I am a perminant follower LOL!! Thanks again :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thank you for sharing. By the way your child is so beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I can't see where I can follow your blog! Have I missed something ...

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  17. https://kimknightauthor.com/2017/02/11/romance-the-good-the-bad-ugly-kims-blog-hop-giveaway-all-can-sign-up-bloghop-romance-valentines-amwriting-meetupatkimsblog/

    Hello again, I think this is the post for the week coming for your hop and follow along. Here is a link for my hop. I'm a romance suspense author from London, I'm hosting a hop and a give away!

    ReplyDelete

I LOVE COMMENTS!
Yes, I L*O*V*E them and look forward to receive great advice and encouragement. Let me know you are here, just write hi :)

THEODORA OFOSUHIMA © 2009-2014. All rights reserved. Seek Permission Before Reproduction. Powered by Blogger.
Designed By Boutique-Website-Design