First I’d like to start off by saying, “Happy Black History Month!” I had planned on doing some fun things this month to celebrate but then life happened lol.
Coming into the country when I was 8 years old was such a huge transition. I remember my first few days so vividly! My first American snack was Reese’s cups, my first movie I watched was George Of The Jungle, & my first moment of realizing that I was different because of my skin color sucked.
I was blessed to learn English at 5 years old, which helped me be super fluent. Most people don’t even know I’m Tanzanian, they just say I look “different” – whatever that means. Going to a predominantly all white school district from elementary school (until high school) made me an almost spokesperson for the entire race, especially in elementary school.
Insert countless years of self discovery from middle school to high school wondering why I look the way I do. This was way before the movement of Melanin Appreciation & people would call you all types of names just for being dark skinned. Not going to lie, it hurt a lot. Plus hearing my absolute favorite, “You’re pretty for a dark skin girl” was never a compliment & it never would be. Like what does that even mean!? At this point, I’m not white enough for my white friends, black enough for my black friend or Tanzanian enough around my family. This definitely affected how I viewed myself & most of my confidence was nonexistent.
Fast forward to college (proud alumna of Eastern Michigan C/O 2014), I was suddenly surrounded by soo many people who looked like me! They even had multiple associations for black arts, politics, and more. I finally felt like I could just. . .be. No one knew or cared about who I was or what I looked like, so I got to recreate myself. I got to make friends who were from so many different African countries that just understood me & it honestly felt A M A Z I N G.
This is the mentality that I now carry with me. Representation is HUGE and there are not a lot of dark skin women who have a platform to speak about their journey or an audience that will listen. I’m so proud of who I am & where I’ve come from.
If I could, I would travel back to my younger self & say, “trust me, everything will be just fine.”
Dejuan Dykes says
Dinah I miss you!!