Loving The Skin That You’re In

By Hakim Abdul-Ali

Sadly, here I go again addressing an arena where apparent self-hatred about one’s features seems to be an apparent issue for me to address once again. This time it stems from actually hearing a young high school female of color tell another acquaintance in a convenience store situation that she didn’t like the nature of her hair and facial features, etc.

As I stood in that line last week waiting to cash out, I could not help becoming aware that evidently some Afro-Americans today (still) have some serious mental hang ups and psychological problems galore about their natural appearances. You see, I’m a senior brother of color, and I realize that this nagging plague is rampant in the minds of more than a few of America’s youthful up and coming Afro-American population.

Listening to these young sistahs rap, made me understand that the cerebral hatred of one’s self and features is far-too-common in many of today’s so-called minorities’ psyches. I say this with no hesitation because many of today’s youth, especially the females, want to possess cosmetic looks resembling other ethnic groupings while all along shunning their own cultural distinctiveness.

This troubles me because if we don’t, as an under siege segment of American society, stop trying to look like someone else in appearances we’ll be doomed to self-destruction. I have to present this scenario to you, and if you’re a conscious person of color living in the racist worlds of today, you know that I’m speaking the truth with no apologies extended.

Being aware definitely lets me know that the Creator Alone created us all into various nations and ethnic groups so that we may know one another and live in peace with each other. Unfortunately, in today’s radically, diverse political world, that doesn’t seem to be the case because the effects of lingering racism,  persistent bigotry and self-loathing have become established realities clearly affecting the gullible personas of many oppressed ethnic folk to this very day.

Maybe, that’s what was affecting the young female, who clearly hated the grade of her hair and, maybe, again, even the color of her skin tone, as she was trying to find something to lighten her complexion. Agonizingly, this is why I’m expressing myself to you now in dealing with the traumatic and devastating malady of self-hatred.

To just say that we’re Black and proud only tells a little about who Afro-Americans are, in general, because I believe being who we are and were created to be is nothing to play with. I, sincerely, and most respectfully, believe that everyone in “hue-manity” should love and adorn the skin and features that they were born with because the Creator Alone, who created me, you and others out of nothing, would never make an error or mistake in doing so.

We in “hue-manity” all originally came from  one universal point of origin and that is Mother Africa. No intelligent soul of wisdom should ever deny or dispute that assertion, and if you want proof of same, just check out a marvelous scientific book by Dr. Spencer Wells in his acclaimed literary genetic research masterpiece called “The Journey of Man.” It’s a winner.

The Supreme Being Alone knew what He Alone was doing when He created “hue-manity” and gave us our unique faces, features and souls. I wish the young female who inspired me to write this would know that out of all of the world’s multitudes of created ethnic folk no one looks like her. She’s unique.

That point needs to emphasized immediately because far too many Black folk are changing their natural features to look like someone else, while all long masking an inner self-hatred of who they are and ancestrally come from. If the truth be told, I sense that the coloration issue has become a psychological noose around the necks and minds of many ethnic souls of color because they want to resemble their colonizers in many norms of copy-cat resemblances.

Whenever I see different ethnic souls and their original natural faces and features, I see characters beyond my sight. It’s the same when I see photos of many different ethnic groups’ heroes and sheroes because their sacrifices, struggles and achievements in the face virulent discriminations lets me know that their natural faces, features and souls tell me so much about them in more ways than I can measure.

When I taught Black History in New Jersey during the early ‘70s, I remembered that one of my professors from the University of Ghana had mentioned to me that from his culture that “there’s one thing that a real Afrikan cannot hide from — and that was from his own soul, culture and face.” He also told me, “Where one’s real soul goes in life, so does his real face and character does too.” That’s deep!

One’s natural inclination should be to be the real, true natural being that he or she was created to be. If one does this, even amidst the evils of today’s clandestine discrimination and racism, that soul can look himself, or herself, in the mirror and know that he, or she, did so while openly “Loving The Skin That They Are In.”

My late mother, who was an honored, respected  and beloved schoolteacher for almost forty-five years, would sit me down and quietly say something to me whenever I had a frown on my face. She would say, “Listen, my son, a bright face never lies. So, you must know that you must make something out of your face by understanding that life is not always going to be peaches and cream.”

She continued by reinforcing that one’s face is saying something about us all the time and that I must learn to make something of the unique face that God gave me. “My dear son, make something out of your face. Put a smile on it, and the whole world knows what your real character is, but, if you frown, it will surely know all about your sorrows, heartaches and pains,” is what this dynamic lady would ever so gently say to my inquiring, advancing mindset.

I hope I didn’t drift too far from my topic of today but I believe that it segues right along with the main theme of ridding one’s self of self-hatred while “Loving The Skin That You’re In.” Our distinctive faces, features, and, yes, even our grades of hair, makes us all very special and unique in the living experience, and we don’t have to look like or act like others at the expense of losing our own cultural identities.

So, I offer that we “all” should intelligently be proud of who we are and where we “all” came from, which is the Motherland, with unapologetic dignity and cultural respect. Many miseducated and colonized folk living in “hue-manity” today are still ashamed of their distinctive Afrikan souls, including their unique faces, hair and skin tones.

Being who you are naturally, in this phase of the living experience, shouldn’t be a burden by trying to be something or someone that and who you aren’t. I believe that your natural character is reflected in your demeanors, outlooks and personas, especially, in your facial features because it’s the vault to your soul.

Maybe, that’s why my mother was so easily able to read my face. Do you do the same? If you do, then you know that our faces, in particular, are our initial ways of possessing peaceful characters beyond explanations because no can take your mind and soul away from you if you don’t let them.

In closing, you do not need to look like someone  else to have value or merit in this world. Be yourself. That’s a point I hope the young female of color recognizes before it’s too late. Be who you are while “Loving The Skin That You’re In,” and for today and always, that’s, “As I See It.”



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