I Was Taught Self-hatred
Like most Black people, I was raised to hate myself. My classes were at home, in books, on the TV, or whenever I stepped outside the house. Self-hatred was the one lesson that was consistent and repeated so often it became a part of me. I started to hate myself before I knew what hate was.
I was too dark to be pretty. Too skinny to attract men. On reflection, the only words that were never used to describe me were dumb or stupid. As a child, I didn’t appreciate the subtlety. But I knew being a dark-skinned Black girl was not a virtue or even a slightly good thing.
Self-hatred manifests in ways that amount to self-sabotage or self-destructive behavior. It affected my self-confidence. How can I be confident if I hate myself? I felt undeserving of success. I developed imposter syndrome. I went through my young adult life feeling uncomfortable with praise or attention.
Today, I love myself! But it was a hard road to find and travel. First, I had to accept myself as I was in the moment. That meant accepting all facets of myself–the good, the bad, and the ugly. Once I embraced self-acceptance, everything else followed.
Questioning the teachings of Catholicism was pivotal to eliminating the profound guilt that overwhelmed my senses whenever I experienced a moment of success or happiness. That guilt combined with self-hatred made me uncomfortable in my skin. Sometimes, I wanted to be as invisible as society made me think I was.
Understanding that white was not right opened pandora’s box of truths. No longer did I accept what I read or saw on TV. I no longer looked at white people as the authority on all matters or put them on a pedestal. No longer did I envy their hair or different color eyes. I came to understand their lies about me was a way for their society or culture to keep their knees on my neck—a method for them to control my narrative and me.
I was lovable just as I was. I didn’t have to act white to be loved. That knowledge was transformational. My dark skin is beautiful—my brown eyes sparkle. My nappy hair provides some funky styles. Indeed, Black is beautiful!