I am the third of five children and the darkest of all four girls. Growing up, my Grandmother referred to me as “Black Zulu”. I can almost still hear the disdain in her voice as she called me that. My oldest sister loves animals and when her dog dropped a litter of puppies, the blackest of the black dogs was called ‘Niki’.
As a child, I never felt anything other than inferior because of my color.
As a young adult, I remember when one of my cousins had her first child and I visited her in the hospital. Her mom, my Godmother, held her grandchild, who was fair skinned, and looked at me and said, “Nikki, when you have a child you better have it was someone light because when you were born you were a very black baby. Black, black, black, black.” I smiled.
I’ve also listened to too many men speak about their love for ‘browning’ [fair skinned women] and their disdain for extensions, weaves, braids or ‘nappy head’.
Now couple that with what we refer to in the Caribbean as “sal’ head” (the correct term would be hair that literally refuses to grow or ‘picky head’). I distinctly remember as a teen having the notion that because I was the darkest among my closest friends I had to ensure that I was always dressed properly – I changed outfits (home clothes) more often than I dare to mention each day – and that my relaxed hair was always properly combed. I would relax my hair every opportunity I got. I could have just had a relaxer 2-3 weeks ago and my Godmother came to get her hair relaxed…I would use the left over relaxer in my hair right after her’s was done.
I was doomed from the get go.
Now, I am by no means saying that I had it ‘hard’ and back then I probably would have said that none of it bothered me….and I truly believed that it didn’t. But when I started seriously dating, I found that I refused to date anyone whose complexion matches mine or is darker than mine. I had a horrible tendency to declare that I would not have a child with anyone who does not have or comes from a line of ‘good hair’.
Bottom line, I was affected.
It took a long time for me to look past my face and see myself as beautiful on a whole. I have a beautiful face, and I have always known that, but I never quite felt beautiful clothed in this dark chocolate complexion and crowned with a mass of “ill-faithed” hair.
But HALLELUJAH! I have overcome ALL that. I am now a super confident 28-going-on-29-year old black woman who finds full lips on a black man absolutely irresistible *-*
Today, I am much more confident in who I am as a person. I am a delicate dark chocolate sista and my skin tone and length or texture of hair does not determine my aptitude or who I am as a person. I have embraced Nekisha and even tho I am still learning to accept every little thing that makes me ME, I am happy in the skin God has blessed me with! I am created in God’s likeness. When he made me, he looked at me and said “you are fearfully and wonderfully made!”
Black Zulu? From today, I wear that title proudly! It reminds me of where I’ve been but it also reminds me that it certainly does not determine where I’m going! Black Zulu is about taking something that negatively impacted you in the past and making it stand for something positive going into your future.
Today, I breathe life into Black Zulu with a fresh big chop (BC) and plans to embrace more of my natural side. This blog is my journey to loving me – utterly and completely – from my roots up!