Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brown is for confused

I woke up this morning and found that my face was on the road to recovery. By recovery I mean that the products I've been using are actually working and helping my face recover from the damaging effects of the sun.

Years in to our teen aged democracy, it's sad but common that you'd find the "White is beautiful" syndrome alive and breeding in the minds of young people years after Steve Biko taught about Black consciousness. I'm conscious alright, conscious of my skin going a darker shade of brown.

In truth, I fear going darker because I'm one of those beauties that can claim this title because of my light skin. I was born with an almost flawless skin, but thanks to my diet, allergies and the sun, my face tends to leave a lot to be desired in my mind. So I look to skin products. The promise of good skin to me includes not only light skin, but blemish free skin.

On the other hand, I struggle with being called anything but Black. the other day I had a White friend say something like "We're English so we have it easy." Now, in context we were talking about the Naledi Pandor movement and our hearts were distressed about the schooling system disadvantaging those who are not taught English as a first language but have to write exams in this language. Yet, as soon as my friend made this particular comment, my initial thought was that I am not English. By calling me English, it implies that I am white. My father is Tswana and my mother is Pedi, therefore I am not English.

Living in our teenage democracy, I am stuck in two realities and one consciousness. With my fair skin and my coconut accent, I fit into two worlds. White and Black. In both these worlds I struggle with my consciousness: being Black. In the White world, we can laugh and play together but I am Black and don't you forget it. In the Black world, we can laugh and play together but not in the African sun lest she put a darker mark on me and then I might not be so beautiful.

I don't know why I feel the way I do, constantly battling with the colour of my skin. In the White world, am I facing a reality of an inferiority complex masked as a pride for my colour? In the Black world am I facing an inferiority complex masked by shame? I don't know, but I' beginning to think that if Black is beautiful and White is common, then Brown is the confusion. My confusion.

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