I was born chocolate. You know the colour of that sweet, dark, mocha mix that just sets your taste buds alive?
I’ve never thought much about being chocolate, nor have I ever thought that my chocolate colour has hindered me in any way. Over the years, I’ve grown used to hearing “Pssstt…Darkie” from random men, as I walk by. And when I was pregnant with my son, I got even darker, and I never felt like I needed to smile more, so that people could still find me in the dark. Seriously, though, being of a chocolate complexion has never bothered me. So when I began to hear about the groundswell of negativity that surrounded Trinidad and Tobago’s current Miss World representative, Athaliah Samuel, I was a bit taken aback. People could not have possibly been ‘hating’ on the girl simply because she was chocolate? Right?
People could not have possibly been ‘hating’ on the girl simply because she was chocolate? Right?
Ms. Pricey suggested that everyone was being a donkey’s behind, because they had a problem with the fact that the girl was from Laventille, had a gap in her front teeth, and, of course, most importantly, she was chocolate. Ms. Price went on to suggest that we would rather embrace a representative who said “Fur shure”, instead of “Diz wha ah talking bout”, and reminded her fan base that when Wendy Fitzwilliam was initially chosen, she also received the same negativity that Athaliah was receiving.
I searched the local blogs and found some comments that were so mean that I refuse to repeat them here, but at the end of it all, I wondered, had I – Ms. Proud Dark Chocolate – unconsciously been the subject such stigma too?
I have lived all of my life in a multicultural, multifaceted society, where I think it would be rather difficult to find any race that has not been genetically ‘touched’ by another. But ever so often, issues like these arise and cause me to question my reality.
Okay…so maybe I’m naïve, but, when an Indian guy at my office paid me a compliment, by saying that he found me really attractive for a “dark girl”, wasn’t he just being honest?
Instead, I have lived most of my life almost naively believing that all of the negatives I may have faced were limited to a small group of people, with a multitude of biases and not based solely on the fact that I am the colour of mocha. To each his own, has been my response to most of these incidents, and any hurt I felt was soon dismissed, for I’ve never felt uncomfortable in my chocolate skin.
After reading those blogs, however, I feel like I cannot continue to stick my head in the proverbial sand, for I believe that the issue that’s keeping me up at nights is this…Are we as a people, still so backward that we can judge a person purely of the colour of their skin? Do we still think that lighter is better, and “if yuh black stay in de back?” Do women of colour still look down on their darker sisters, feeling that the lighter shades of chocolate are better? And do we, as mocha sisters, still see ourselves as ugly or not as pretty as lighter women? Do we still think that we do not fit the world’s standard of beauty, because we can’t see our veins?
Machel Montano’s recent video for his Soca hit, “Bottle Of Rum”, mostly featured girls who looked like the bottle, clear. I personally have no problem with that. But can I really ignore the fact the ladies of the darker tones are missing from many of our print, television and billboard advertising? In fact, a guy in advertising once told me, “You would never get an ad in Trinidad [with dark people]”. Then he paused to think and said…”Well maybe a Crime Stoppers ad!” I had burst out laughing at that comment, because to me it was seriously funny. To the friends I told, not so much.
Maybe I have ignored the fact that I live in a society where skin colour does matter. And the darker the chocolate, the less the acceptance? I posed that as a question, because I do not want to believe that to be true. I’m hoping that chocolate mummies do not still tell their sons and daughters to “put some milk in dey coffee”, for that would be…well sad. It’s even worse to think that after all this time, and with all the blends and the beauty of the various races in Caribbean society, there are many who still see and can only see colour.
I still hope, though, that one day, generations will begin to look deeper, and measure a person by their motives, their hearts and their actions, instead of simply by the colour of their skins.
Until then, to all my chocolate sisters…look into the mirror and see your beauty. See that your skin has been kissed by the sun. Teach your daughters the self-love that you wish was taught to you and live your life to the fullest. Let nothing hold you back, especially the colour of the skin that you had no choice in choosing, but was given as a gift from the creator. Embrace your gift. To Athaliah…You represented us well. Keep your head up, my beautiful, chocolate sister.
Image via entertainmentfromd.net