“Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the color of your skin? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet? Who taught you to hate your own kind? Who taught you to hate the race that you belong to so much so that you don’t want to be around each other? No… Before you come asking Mr. Muhammad does he teach hate, you should ask yourself who taught you to hate being what God made you.” (Malcolm X – May 22, 1962, Los Angeles)
48 years later, the question of self-hate still looms in my mind when I think of certain people. I’m thinking beyond the texture of a person’s hair, but more so the skin deep issues, when it comes to the color of someone’s skin. If you hadn’t noticed, I’m Black and I’ve never claimed to be anything other than Black. Sure, my last name is probably one of the most Irish names out there, but I’ve never been mistaken for anything but a Black woman. I embrace my kinky/curly hair, I embrace my full lips, caramel skin and almond shaped eyes. I embrace the fact that my background is a diverse mixture of Irish, Black & Native American. My family’s history is one of diversity, but as diverse as we are, I realize that I’m still a Black woman.
I remember the first time I heard James Brown’s song, “Say It Loud I’m Black & I”m Proud”, I was 6 years old, and my grandmother played it on her old record player. As I saw this really light-skin woman dancing around the living room, singing the lyrics, I realized that being “Black” was a beautiful existence. Even though I remember the stories she used to share about her growing up and being teased because of her “lightness”, it still never made her ashamed of her blackness.
What really sucks, is that nowadays, there are still individuals out there, who still can’t bring themselves to say, “I’m Black & I’m Proud”. In the words of the late El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, “Who Taught You To Hate Yourself”?