Must Be Nice

Dove Facebook ad showing, what appears to be, a black woman cleansing herself and becoming a white woman.

Imagine growing up being made to know that for one specific reason you are different. Not unique different but the sort of different that gets you called out of your name, often feeling like a second-class citizen. But, maybe it’s because of this reason, or in spite of it, you find solace with those who identify with you, allowing each other the opportunity to grow and express themselves. You take this fact; you hold on to it; you embrace it; champion the culture of those born with it; use it to fight for each other; label it the struggle; build a sense of pride in the face of persecution. You protect it now, because you had no choice in being made to feel like an outsider; like you don’t belong; like you are worth less than others.

The Gucci wool balaclava jumper that sparked outrage with many calling it a "blackface" sweater.

The Gucci wool balaclava jumper that sparked outrage with many calling it a "blackface" sweater.

This is what having black skin feels like for me. Like I have been fighting for the right to feel proud of something that I had no say in being born with. And because they keep telling me that “times are getting better,” and I tend to believe that they are, I search for others who’ve shared this black skin back when it was an affliction, the civil rights leaders, black thinkers, and champions of the diaspora; those who paved the way for the sense of pride that it would evolve into over time, allowing my skin color to become the blessing that it is today. The feeling of being different will never leave me, however, because I have learned to be proud of the things that my supposed “curse” has brought with it, our influence is found in almost every part of the American standard of living today.

But I have had to fight for this feeling of pride. I don’t have a choice to turn it on or off. So when I see shit like this I feel sick to my stomach. Because it must be nice that certain people can fetishize, bastardize and utilize something that I have had to carry with me for my entire life. It must be nice that at the end of the day they can change their clothes, wash their skin, turn off their television set, or whatever else puts distance between them and the culture I love, not out of want, but out of necessity. Because I have no choice. I wouldn’t go that far as to label it as racism, but it certainly speaks to the lack of awareness or education that still exists today.