Talking from experience, black-on-black discrimination exists and it has been there for a long time. I always thought it was just bad people being themselves, to them it was a joke but to me, it scarred me.
I would always imagine myself as a light-skinned girl rather than a dark-skinned girl because the word on the street was that light-skinned girls are prettier than dark-skinned girls. No actually the word on the street was dark-skinned girls are the ugliest. I promise you it wasn’t always like this, or maybe it has always been like that, I just didn’t notice that they were making jokes about my skin colour until high school.
Everyone’s first day of high school leaves a sour taste in their mouths when talking about it, mine did not only leave a sour taste but a scar. I was so excited to be in high school and well I could say it was just the beginning of a horrible high school life. It was just after assembly; we were told to stand by the assembly stage, they would attend to us newcomers. We had been waiting for about 30 minutes and I needed to go to the toilet so I decided to quickly head there but it took longer. When I came back to join the others at the assembly stage there was absolutely no one there so I just entered into a class because I was scared to stand alone at the assembly stage.
I entered the class immediately to sit down but when I finally did, I heard a loud voice “Hey you black thing.” I didn’t even realise the person was shouting at me but when I saw the whole class laughing and looking at me, I was shocked and ashamed at the same time. It was the teacher at the front who said it and I stood up to go to the front while other pupils were still laughing. That was the start of all kinds of names I had.
I felt so heavy every time I woke up to go to school, to the point where I would pretend to be sick for days just to avoid going to school. The teacher who started the trend was my class teacher, and what was worse, was that he didn’t see anything wrong with it.
I was always angry at school but happier at home until my older brother noticed. My brother always encouraged me to not allow people from outside our home to tell me otherwise. He thought I was pretty and told me I didn’t need make-up to feel beautiful, but at this point I thought I needed it. He asked me if there was anything troubling me. At first I told him it wasn’t anything major but I couldn’t handle it anymore. I couldn’t handle all the name calling and laughing every single time, so I finally explained to him. He was surprised that it bothered me because I was not like that at first. He told my parents about it but when they went to school it was just brushed off, so my brother came up with an idea. He wanted to organise a beauty pageant for dark-skinned girls but the trick was that all the contestants went home with a certain prize. He proposed it at school and the principal loved it, so all the parents donated for us to buy those prizes for the contestants.
Finally after two years of struggle at high school I felt free to be myself. At the pageant they talked about how we should appreciate ourselves more and love who you are because you cannot re-paint what God has painted so beautifully. I saw myself in a different light. I looked in the mirror that night and saw beautiful rich skin so full of life and sun-kissed. Loving yourself is more beautiful.
Tell us: What self-appreciation lessons have you learnt?