When I was growing up in Cleveland, Ohio I had a hard time as a child with my chocolate skin. For some reason it was thought that having chocolate skin was unattractive and undesirable. For many years the lighter skinned was praised for being more attractive and “pretty”. Of course over the years I got over it and started to realize that having chocolate skin was a blessing. I’m sure I’m not the only chocolate out there that has had to fight through psychological paradigms that block the view of self. Classmates and other children can be cruel when you’re young and unaware of all the deeper aspects surrounding the chocolate stigma and it can be hard to gain a more positive perspective if no one is around to tell you that you’re beautiful regardless.
Things happen in our world without our full understanding but in spite of our understanding we still have to go through them. When looking at the reasons why black skin has had a negative connotation with it we have to first go back in history. When some of the first blacks arrived with the intentions of being slaves to British North America it was in 1619. A group of 20 blacks came along with other white indentured servants as well as the first white woman to Jamestown and they all came on the same level. They had an agreement to work as servants until they could pay for their own freedom. This they did and in the process due to having small amounts of white women in the colonies white men opted to choose blacks, and Native Americans for spouses and had children with them. This was the beginning of the cross - cultural coupling producing a more diverse medley of skin tones in British North America. At this time there was not much skin discrimination for it was not solely associated with slavery at first. It wasn’t until starting in 1641( 22 years later ) that laws began to be put in place to restrict the freedom of slaves. This was due to the economic benefits that were discovered from slavery and therefore where once the child born would bare the rights of their fathers new laws switched this making children born subject to retain the rights of the mother. So if you were born to an enslaved woman you would be born enslaved as well. This was a trickle down effect that spread throughout the south as the years went by. Many disadvantages came about due to this change for black people including having dark skin which was the most obvious factor to categorize you into slavery. No wonder having dark skin has always played a psychological role in feeling “ less than “ or inferior.
Over the years the negative affects of this perspective of dark skin has continued through the generations from a number of collective individual circumstances and experiences that have unintentionally or intentionally reinforced these paradigms. Through time we have been shown through varies outlets ( media, books, laws) that dark skin is a disadvantage in American society. Parents pass down this pathology to their children and children unintentionally spread this awareness to other children through negative remarks, teasing, and alienation. This also plays out psychologically through who we perceive as beautiful or not. Facial features most commonly associated with lighter skinned people like asian shaped eyes or smoother and less coily hair have been coveted features to have and if you have them with dark skin you would look good “ for a dark skin person “.
As time has moved forward we as a human race have now become more aware of the fact that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and anyone can be deemed beautiful regardless of their skin complexion. We have also come to embrace the many benefits of having darker skin like natural protection from ultraviolet rays and your dark pigmentation is a major savior when it comes to protection from the sun. We are at an advantage due to the high amounts of melanin produced in our skin. The dark pigmentation protects us from DNA damage and absorbs the right amounts of UV radiation needed by the body, as well as protects against folate (Vitamin B) depletion.
We are less prone to sunburns. White skinned individuals often have inflamed sunburns on exposure to sunlight. Some individuals also get blistering sunburns which need medical treatment. The benefit of being dark is we rarely experience such adverse effects from the beautiful sun. The more melanin you have, the darker your skin. And the safer you are. Melanin along with other factors, acts as a “natural umbrella” under the sun. Few people know that melanin is found in almost every organ of the body and is necessary for the brain and nerves to operate, the eyes to see, and the cells to reproduce. This gives darker skinned individuals an increased resistance to aging, sunburn, and wrinkles. Knowing that it isn’t such a bad thing to be born with high amounts of melanin.
Dark skin has been around since the beginning and has been determined by geographical position. In the beginning we formed near the equator and as time went on and we migrated north. Our skin, through evolution, started to become lighter. This is because there were smaller amounts of sun light in the north and through adaptation we started to produce less melanin. This is why we find the Northern reign of the globe with the lightest skin and more darker skin people in the middle reigns. There is tons of research to confirm this however what I gather from it is that skin complexion is a by-product of biology and adaptation. Because our skin has developed over time in many different shades due to cross cultural coupling and geographical positioning we can see that the negative sigmas associated with being dark skinned isn’t realistic and shouldn’t determine a person’s character. Character is determined more so on one’s environment and upbringing rather than on their skin complexion.
As I came to discover the deeper truths behind melanin I could understand more of why I was blessed to be dark skinned and how it was solely up to me to accept that I was actually a very beautiful being despite the misunderstanding of my skin tone in the larger world view. It has been up to me and now I say to any dark skinned person to recognize the beauty in being darker skinned and to understand that as evolution continues so will the broadening of societies mind. In the meantime its good to know that having dark skin is more of a blessing than a curse and that through over coming the contrast of negative stigma you can still achieve and find happiness while being who you were born to be .