It’s Black History Month, as the internet has been cueing us since we stepped into February. It’s also the time when bloggers, thinkers and artists, among other groups of people, highlight black beauty, black excellence and all the things that make us black magic. Because I cannot carry last, I also want to pay tribute to the amazing people I share skin pigment with.
I remember a time when I and my friend went to get something to eat across our hostel and The vendor looked at both of us and commented: ” You people are fine girls o but fair colour go fit una better.”
I was at a loss at first, the effrontery! We schooled him on how we liked our skin just the way it was and even then, the said vendor did not keep giving his unsolicited advice. Safe to say, we had to move away from his stall before we told him in explicit terms where to keep his opinions.
It was an example of how far the brainwashing around the idea of race and colourism has seeped into our consciousness. I can tell of the many troubles that come up when I go to the market to find a skin product without the term lightening agent. We really have such a long way to go.
But maybe you are thinking: She is in Nigeria, what do skin toning and bleaching have to do with black history month? Well, Black History month represents that fight to celebrate and honour people of colour. It was chosen as February because it coincides with the birthdays of Frederick Douglas (A writer and a man who escaped slavery and turned back to be a champion fighting for the release of other slaves) and Abraham Lincoln (The president who outlawed slavery in the United States).
Unfortunately, even though slavery is past us, we are still shackled even here in Nigeria with the ideologies of what is beautiful and what is valuable. The effects of the dominant narratives of slavery and colonialism make us despise the natural pigmentation of our skin. In the words of Frederick Douglas, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair a broken man.”
So I guess, being all the way in Nigeria here, I am choosing to celebrate black history month by emphasizing the beauty of our black skin, our black glow. I will keep hyping all my other black ladies because truly, we are beautiful!