Robert F Wagner Jr Institute For Arts & Technology

The Rise of the African American Phoenix (Chapter 2)

My Skin

My skin — is a rather fair shade. It simply tests the richness of every chocolate delight known demand. From caramel to dark and a highly generous amount of milk. I take much pride in my assorted sweets. Sure my skin is a diabetic flare, but along with its attractive name follows the dangers of said pigment.

Now I didn’t always carry as much confidence as I do now, especially surrounding the tint of my own skin. The ideal “type” presented in magazines and other media were always one of a particular lighter shade. One that my skin — simply was not.

I remember my first day of middle school. I knew from the beginning that it would not be easy, considering my initial thought of my higher stakes of meeting a darker friend of my complexion, than that of the opposite. Looking back now, I do realize that it was incredibly stereotypical of me to think that way, but in my defense — I was only 12.

Expectant of a classroom full of dark skinned students, I huffed in a stock full of air, possibly suffocating my escort beside me. It was always the the job of the guidance counselor to lead the nervous new students to their classroom, and that day the “anxiety issued” new kid just so happened to be me.

With a full exhale, I entered the room, baring the weight of the heavy glares from my fellow classmates sitting quite snugly in their desks. Scanning my eyes over the crowd, a wave of confusion washed over me, when reality hit like a brick square in my face. A precise number of three kids — excluding myself, were all I could bring myself to count. Sadly, I could hand pick the amount of black students in my classroom. The majority of the class similar to a diverse fruit basket — consisted of many different types of Latinos. Stemming from the creamy toned Puerto Ricans to the mellow brown skinned Mexicans. Although it didn’t end there – there were also Dominicans and a few white kids in the back. I even spotted a pretty cute light skinned Italian boy, with a nest of short red-dyed curls resting on his head.

I was a deer in headlights.

My hypothesis just flew out the window from then on.

It wasn’t until I was made out to be the ugly duckling of the bunch; prone to bullying because of the clear distinction of my complexion to theirs. Acts like these are always overlooked because that’s what to expect when you’re the new kid right? Wrong.

A child should never have to hear the words “don’t touch my markers, you’re dirty” or “you’re a walking shadow.”

Infact no one of color should ever have to hear this tune. Yet, sadly I did. And that was when I lost all trust in my assorted sweets. If only they knew that their taunts would later present me with a sweet tooth for chocolate.

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