At a very young age, brown/black people have a reckoning with their melanin. Why should a child have to question why they are covered in not-white skin? The melanated skin comes up against white images of beauty that have been portrayed as perfection through the ages. I already recognized when I was only a few years old I knew that my skin color is called inferior and undesirable by some.
And yet, having lived in my own brown skin for so long, I’ve come to see it for the treasure it is. I now believe it has been attacked because of its beauty, and for the way it stays within shades of itself even in the absence of sunshine. And I imagine that the reckoning we face as young children because of it is part of the process of coming to terms with the great gift we have been given – that is, to be born encased in melanated skin – and all that entails.
Just like a child born into royalty has to be told at a young age what that means, those with any of the shades of black skin have to face up to that gift, learn how to live in it, and love it. That process can take years, and sadly some never succeed at it; but for those who do, there is a regal air and confidence about them that nothing, and no-one, can strip from them.
I adore blackness in all its shades and nuances. I am aware of its presence, and its absence, everywhere I go. It is never out of my mind. The ways in which I think of hair, skin, food, and music, are all black. Just like so many on this side of the Atlantic ocean, my DNA isn’t one hundred percent African, but within this brown skin is culture and history. In my case, it’s African and slavery, being born in a Caribbean nation. It’s the Kriol language, rice and beans, sere, and cowfoot soup. I am Brukdung and Punta – all of this before I even say a word.
I want you to see my color, because when you see that, you see me.
The Bible speaks about heaven being filled with people from every tribe and nation; it doesn’t just say ‘people’. We are different because God made us that way. I believe He wants us to celebrate and honor the differences among us. So, instead of saying you don’t see color, allow yourself to see white, brown, and black, and all the shades in between, for that is how God created us. Every shade carries His image; and within each shade is history and culture that shape us all.
We have been misled. The enemy of our souls has lied to us and told us that white skin, blond hair, and blue eyes are beauty defined; but our Creator, the true Author of beauty, who knew us before we were even formed, took loving care in choosing everything about us – including our ethnicity.
God is good; and when He created you, He said, ‘This is good!’ Your skin shade is from His palette. One way we can honor Him is to look the beauty lie in the face and call it out for what it is.
So, love the skin you’re in – whatever shade you are! It’s a God-given gift and it’s yours! If you are in doubt, ask the Father to give you eyes to see yourself as He sees you. Ask Him to show you the joy He felt as He designed you, choosing your hair, lips, feet, knees, eyes, and your skin. When He shows you that, you’ll never un-see it.
Go in confidence, no matter what the world tells you through advertising and magazines. Don’t believe the lie that you are not beautiful, and that you don’t measure up to the beauty standards that have been set up to sell consumer goods. Be confident in being able to approach the throne of grace the way God designed you, because His gift of salvation is inclusive.
This process of ‘coming into your skin’ is real and necessary. It is a time of sifting through the lies to gain the truth that the skin you’re in is beautiful, and God-given. The things that make you up physically are gifts from Him, and you get the privilege of learning how to steward those gifts for His glory. So, love the skin you’re in.
Copyright © Debbie Mendoza January 2020