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YELLOW, THE NEW BLACK: Unlearning The Self Hate

By Flavian Farainashe Makovere As I make my way back to where my cousins are seated, hands holding bottles of the forbidden waters, dancing sweaty bodies press and rub up against me. I feel their eyes undressing me. I don’t […]

By Flavian Farainashe Makovere

As I make my way back to where my cousins are seated, hands holding bottles of the forbidden waters, dancing sweaty bodies press and rub up against me. I feel their eyes undressing me. I don’t mind though, its the fastest way back to my seat. I always feel a little out of place in place in places like these and today is no different. This is the third club we have been to tonight ;and the worst of the three if I might add – the interior looks more like that of the inside of a coffin and the place smells of nicotine. Usually I enjoy a quite night at home but tonight since I don’t drink, I will have to act waiter and driver for my cousins – things we do for family.

“Hey, check out those girls over there” Takunda points out as I reclaim my seat.”I like the one in red”, I smile, still looking at her and marking my territory.

“Dude ,there is a table full of yellow bones, and the best you can do is pick a black berry” he asks .

“What’s wrong with her?”

His eyes wide he makes several attempts to speak, but no words came out of his twitching lips. He shakes his head, with a blank look on his face. I have no idea what he wants me to say but it sure becomes evident that he is nowhere pleased with my answer. Almost as if offended by my not wanting one of these “yellow bones”.

And sitting here, looking back, my head is filled with more questions than answers. See its not only him who now carries with him this twisted view that only the light skinned women carry the definition of beauty.

In a world where the media teaches us how to draw conclusion based on appearance ,learning to be comfortable in your own skin has become a real challenge for my not so yellow sisters. I don’t really get why being light skinned has become some sort of social currency.” Yellow bone ndizvo,vasikana vatema ihanzvadzi dzedu idzi” you hear boys seated my the corner commenting.

Sadly we have bought into this lie and embraced it with both hands – white is better therefore more beautiful. Some of my sisters have even gone a step ahead and bleached their skin so that they might also be welcomed into the United League of Yellow Bones. The light skinned women have become the goddesses of beauty, with men flocking to their temples to worship. This description of people as yellow bones and therefore beautiful is very disturbing and quiet revealing .It reveals the way in which the power of white supremacy continues to rule in the minds of my Afrikan sisters and brothers ; it even shows that racism as a system of oppression can function without white people present because we as a people have been thoroughly taught to hate our own skin.

Or maybe I’m coming on too strong, am I overreacting?, okay let’s start over shall we!

We have believed in a lie ,consciously or unconsciously and it is holding us back as a people. We have carried with us a false standard of beauty and listened to too many lies, they have become the truth .Am I the only one who has become sick of this use of whiteness as a barometer of beauty. My black Afrikan sisters carry with them the belief that light skin makes them better or more worthy as if being a yellow bone gets them free data bundles from Mukoma Strive.

See beauty is not a thingy that you can buy and apply or consume. It is something that you just have to be – it is more than what you can see, but what you seek ; beauty is tangible.

But then I know how stupid I sound by saying that, so I won’t even try to tell you that beauty lies within because you will tell me that no one walks with an X-ray machine to see inside.

But can I blame you? Can I blame you when you were brought up to believe that you are nothing more than your bra-size, skin colour and attention you get from males. Can I blame you when judging each other’s body shape ,skin colour or weight is a common habit?. I would rather not blame you because it is not your own fault – you were made to believe that being sexy is in the same category as being successful, as if the capacity to arouse sexual desire in a men is an achievement. I would rather not blame you because growing up you were introduced to God and made to believe that He was this old white man so you bleached in the quest of trying to became like the one you worship.

It angers me ,but I have to remember that this issue of blackness is way deeper than we care to admit, it has been here long before the term yellow bone was cooked.

To tell you the truth ,most women are professional actors only famous for nothing but gossiping. My sisters lack the ability to genuinely care for one another or be genuinely towards one another .

And here is the problem – most of my Afrikan sisters see femininity as a competition to be the best in the class. Why is it so hard to support and genuinely cheer each other nhai asikana !?

But also it is our fault as Fathers and Brothers – we are still teaching our daughters that the greatest thing they have to offer is their sexuality. Maybe my sisters are bleaching because they want to erase what defines their ethnicity because they were taught to hate their own skin.

It takes a special kind of Afrikan to question these things and remind ourselves that we need to unlearn this self hate .At some point in your journey to finding your true self you will get to a place where it literally pains you to be anything but your authentic self.

It is of importance to note that you are more than the skin that you wear : you are your ambitions and words you speak, you are the goals you set and thoughts you think.

It is about time we teach our Afrikan Queens self love, that it is okay to be you : maybe you are not as good looking as the magazines claim you should be, but you are beautiful in your own way. Accept yourself the way you are, with your brown skin and kinky hair.

Image Credit: SwaliAfrica


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