"She's Pretty for a Black Girl"

     Photo Credit: Tiffany Johnson

     I've heard some ignorant comments in my day, but this comment just irked me. It got under my skin and under my heart in an uncomfortable way.

     It wasn't even a comment directed towards me, but towards another young lady. And no, this comment wasn't made in jest, or to make a case for satire. It was just said, "matter-a-fact-ly" as I was walking next to this person that I know...

     I looked at this person in unbelief.
Wait. Do you realize that I'm Black? 
Do you realize that your comment would inherently have an affect on me and any insecurities that I may be dealing with on that day?
     Mind you, I know this person as an acquaintance and for the most part, I know this person is not  mean-spirited.  But nevertheless, I couldn't help but think, why would such a comment flow so freely from their lips?

     And when did the definition of beauty become so narrow?

     I know. I know. I'm not trying to be dumb. I know that certain elements equate to "Beauty": symmetry, a person's taste, etc. But the closer I've gotten to God in these past 10 years, the more I see beauty all around me. Including seeing the beauty in all types of people. It's like I can't help myself. Everyone looks gorgeous to me in so many different ways.

     So then, when I hear a comment like, "She pretty for a Black girl." It snaps me back to reality.

     So that's what the rest of the world thinks like...But truth be told,  I use to think that way as well. History shows us that even in the Black community, we've often skewed our own definition of beauty. Meaning, if you have lighter skin, you are often deemed more beautiful than someone with darker skin. Why must that be? Honestly.

     I almost bought into the hype when I was younger, which would have given me a bit of an advantage, considering my lighter skin tone as a Black girl. But then I would look at the face of my mother, her deep chocolate skin and face is synonymous with beauty, joy and kindness to me. And that's when I refused to believe the "world's" hype about what is considered beautiful.

     But it's often not just the "big bad world" that we have to filter opinions and information from. It's also those that are the closest to us. Whether family, best of friends, or the culture of our cities and communities. Do you simply sound like their echo, or do you have your own voice. And have you weighed your own speech lately? The motive and intent of our hearts can usually be masked by slick language. But are you just saying words, or do you really mean them?

     I know we all have our private language. How we talk to family and close, close friends. And then we usually have our public language. But both languages are influenced by one another. And very much express what you ultimately believe as true.

     Which got me thinking. What are we really saying with our words? And how is our tone when we speak to friends, bosses, teachers, sisters, mothers, bank tellers?... Have we listened to ourselves speak, lately? You should try it, it's quite enlightening and a bit exposing. Seriously.

     Because, when you speak, when I speak, when we speak, we change things. For either good or bad.  We have the ability to cause someone (including ourselves) to be brave, to soar, to see their own beauty and worth, or we have the ability to tear them down, crush them and destroy dreams and identity. All of this power, just with the simple words that we speak.

Wisdom's Knocking:

"Death and Life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit." 
-Proverbs 18:21