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A Day In My Skin
Ty Hargrove

Coming to terms with my skin tone was not an easy task, but it was something that I knew I had to do in order to move forward with my life.

Segregation of a race on the basis of skin tone has played a major part in my life for as long I can remember.

Growing up, I always felt a little out of place and insecure about my skin tone. Coming from a mixed background and living in a predominately African-American neighbourhood as a kid, I was often singled out because of the colour of my skin.

I learned at a young age that racism was not just black and white, but it was also light-skin versus dark-skin in the black community. As a child I had no concept of what skin colour was or why all my friends were a different shade of brown in comparison to myself.

My mother, being a fair-skinned woman, would try to explain to me why my skin was the colour that it was but I never understood because all I ever wanted to be was dark-skinned.

Over the years, I felt like I had to over-compensate for being light-skinned, whether it be wearing my hair in braids or straight because I didn’t want the other kids to see my curls. I was bullied in school because all the other kids who were darker than me thought that I was better than them because of my lighter skin, but in reality I just wanted to fit in.

I was often called names like light bright, half-breed and even sometimes just white. The negative and hurtful things that the other kids would say to me stayed implanted in my mind way into my high school years.

I was often told that I didn’t belong at the black kids table because I was too light but I couldn’t hang out with the white kids because I wasn’t white enough and for the longest time I felt no sense of belonging.

It is sad that one race can oppress its own people without even thinking about how the African-American race has been oppressed by other races for so many years.
This type of mindset of light-skin versus dark-skin goes back to slavery days when the light slaves would work in the house and were called house niggers and the darker slaves who worked outside would be called field niggers.

This idea of separation because of skin tone has shattered the unity of the African-American Community before we even had a chance to unify as a people. The light-skin versus dark-skin is a mechanism created to make a race hate itself, and it is not something that just happens in the African-American community.

This stigma of skin tone happens in Middle Eastern cultures as well, in which, if you are of a lighter skin tone, you are thought to be better than someone who is darker than you.

Now that I have come to terms with who I am, no one can tell me that my skin tone is a factor in defining me as a person, because skin is just an outer layer and we should not let it define us as a people.

Coming to terms with my skin tone was not an easy task, but it was something that I knew I had to do in order to move forward with my life.

I found that stepping out of my comfort zone and meeting new people and experiencing new things helped me build confidence in my appearance. Through my newfound confidence, I learned to accept the things about myself that I could not change.

'I hope that people come to realize that there is only one race and that is the human race and we are all a part of it,' said Margaret Atwood, a Canadian poet, novelist and literary critic. This quote gave me a different outlook on life and how I looked at people who had a skin tone that was different than my own.

It taught me that skin tone should never be a factor, because at the end of the day, skin is just skin.

Ty Hargrove is a staff writer at the San Jose Daily Spartan, click here to view the original article:


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