"You're so pretty for a dark-skinned girl."Please keep your back-handed compliment to yourself. To 15 year old Adriana, this would be a compliment. Not that I thought being dark-skinned was a bad thing or that I was ugly, but I didn't really appreciate my dark skin as much as I should have, and as much as I do now.
While I never thought I was ugly, I never really called myself beautiful.
As an inquisitive child, I would ask why my teacher's skin was "light-tan" and mine dark brown. I saw that my hair was different from others, but I didn't understand that it was different. For a lack of words, I was naive and ignorant to differences that distinguished me from my peers.
Coming to college, I finally took the time to learn about my worth and my natural beauty and actually invest in loving myself. It's one thing for me to think dang, I look kinda good today than to wake up every morning and feel beautiful irregardless of my imperfections. As cliche as it is, I agree with the majority when they say college is the time for you to discover who you are. I know that I am uniquely made and that God took his time on me. I wouldn't realize that had I not learned about His grace and love that he has for me and my family. Many take the way I see my self as conceited, but fail to realize it's the love I have for God that exudes and manifests itself as beauty.
Coming from a relatively liberal college, I gained the vocabulary and confidence to speak out when I feel uneasy. It was a great 4 years to learn about myself and others and I am happy to say I left college with so much more to learn; 1 Corinthians 8:2 "If any man thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know." Fortunately and unfortunately, I had to leave college at some point and get back to the real world where not everyone understands you can't just say everything that comes to your mind. In a work environment where you're a minority, it's all you notice sometimes. Not to "make everything about race", but there are some things I can't ignore and the color of my skin is one of them. Sometimes I laugh when people say "they don't see color" but then proceed to say things like "well, my best friend is black so I can (insert something they CAN'T do here)." Needless to say, these statements along with others just enforce a more socially acceptable way to be problematic. While it's not anyone's intention to do so, turning a blind eye to issues revolving colorism is what contributes to the growing conflicts we see everyday.
This post is not addressed to only non-black people. Some of the most discouraging things I have heard about the color of my skin have come from other black people - mostly when I was younger. Luckily, I was thick skinned and either made a joke back at the person who tried me, or laughed with them. Not all children think that way. It's so important to watch the way we behave in front of children and what things we tolerate in their presence.
We live in a time where we walk on eggshells because a lot of the things we are used to saying aren't actually nice, they're just micro-aggressions. "Snowflake" would probably be the word many adults would use to describe us. On the contrary, I think that people of color and marginalized groups are finding a voice for themselves and bringing attention to issues that have never been discussed.
I am convinced, some people want to reach the quota of saying "nice things" that they just say anything they can think of. So next time you think you're doing someone a solid by calling them pretty for a dark skinned person, ask yourself if you're really complimenting them or reaching your quota.