The South is best known for good food, hospitality, bugs and of course, racism. I grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. Many are the memories of my childhood. Some good, some bad. Some of my best days were spent with my grandmother. She was a very educated, sassy and beautiful Black Woman. I wanted so much to be like her but not in ways that one may think. The thing I longed for most was to have a complexion like hers--fair. This was not always the case, however.
When I was a young child, I attended a Christian daycare while my mother went to work. It wasn't anything special but the purpose was served. This was a place to keep me safe and occupied during the day so my mother could earn a living.
I remember the playground being covered with sand. Trouble often found me because I would get that sand in my hair, which for little black girls is a huge no-no. Children there were pretty friendly. One of my best friends was a little white boy named Danny. We weren't in the same class, but we would eat breakfast together and play during recess. I don't recall any other child's name, but I do remember what they looked like--two little girls in particular.
One Friday afternoon during playtime, I was on the swings with another little girl who was very pretty. Her hair was wavy, long and beautiful. We were laughing and having a great time. All of a sudden, one of the older school-aged girls came over and told her not to play with me because I was dark-skinned, and was ugly. She grabbed her by the hand and left me on the swings by myself. I was left there, hurt and confused. I was four years old. I was black, but so were they.
That Sunday, I got my hair re-braided at my older "cousin's" house and I told her what happened. She was about three years older. We persuaded our parents to let her spend the night so she could attend daycare with me the next day. Our begging worked. Needless to say, that girl who was so mean to me really got it. My cousin got into trouble and was told she could never come back, but we didn't care because I was not going to be messed with again and I wasn't.
Although justice had been served in my eyes, I became painfully aware of my chocolate brown complexion. I didn't like it much at all. I wanted to be lighter and prettier. I wanted to look like my grandmother.
I experienced hatred for the color of my skin at a very young age and it did not come from a white person. It came from someone who should have embraced me. I had to learn to love my skin and the process took a while.
Published by Tyffani Thompson