Loving the Skin I'm In (by Kathryn S. Carrington)
Loving the Skin I'm In
-- by Kathryn S. Carrington
An article sent to Essence Magazine
I was torn, confused and twisted when I received the
reactions from my 'black' co-workers and many friends
when I shared with them the cover of my new
romance novel, entitled, "To Catch a Kitten".
I cringed at the remarks tossed at me like a ball
of fire, ready to burn the skin from my hands,
as if I were holding a hand full of hot grits!
According to my "sisters", the photo chosen by my
publishing company wasn't quote: "Black enough".
Suddenly I felt a sick sense of isolation,
disbelief and embarrassment -- thinking that
-- maybe I wasn't "Black enough" myself --
upon realizing that the photo resembled,
none other than traces of my self.
I had described and then envisioned my main
character- Kitten-looking actually like the
young model on the cover and -- yet -- because
of my co-workers and friends and 'their' dislike
for the cover, I was feeling confused and ashamed.
To add salt to my injury, I immediately emailed my
editor and asked her if I could change the cover.
I want the woman to appear more "African-American"
and less 'Caucasian' looking, is what I told her.
She emailed me back and said that the girl on the
cover was indeed, an "African-American", much
like the character I had described in my book.
Upon feeling dazed and, not to mention, rather stunned
- I thanked her and sat at my desk, looking rather wan.
"What the he** was I doing?" I thought, "I love this cover!"
It was time for me to check myself.
Suddenly I realized that most of my life I had
been feeling a bit isolated and ashamed.
I went to school with 'blacks'
through out my entire education
-- and was often taunted and teased
because I was extremely light-skinned.
I had been trying to make up for the fact that I too,
felt that I was not "Black enough" -that is- on the
outside, for indeed I was very "black" on the inside.
I loved the taste of soul food: collard greens,
macaroni and cheese .. went to 'black' shows,
danced at 'black' parties and read plenty of
great 'black' books .. and love my two Black
dark-skinned grand-daughters more than life itself ...
Then what was my problem?
Like many of my darker-skinned "sisters", I was uncomfortable
in my skin, always thinking that I was just not good enough.
I had heard so many 'stories' of light-skinned "sisters" -- thinking that
they were prettier or better than their darkerskinned "sisters" ... that
left me feeling even more ashamed as well as embarrassed for them.
I was afraid to show any signs of liking myself and constantly
feeling guilty if I dared thought that I was just a little bit pretty;
-- not to mention the fact that, I had been raised by a light-skinned
mother who constantly told me that my darker-skin sisters,
would never care for me, no matter how kind I was
towards them or how much I wanted to befriend them.
Thankfully, I never believed that notion and it was good that I didn't
because I have many wonderful friends of all nationalities, today.
Today I am still striving to be the confident,
light-skin "black" woman that I know myself to be.
I would be lying if I told you that I wasn't struggling with
the fact that I have to continue loving the skin that I'm in
- but - like many people who come from all
walks of life to live in our great nation,
I have to learn to love what my Higher
Power has given me -- and -- that is an
appearance to be proud of, no matter what.
I am extremely blessed to be a part of that
semi-circle that is formed by the rainbow that
projects the many shades of our heritage.
I am also extremely delighted and happy with the cover
of my new fiction entitled "To Catch a Kitten"; but I can't
help but to wonder about the young woman on its cover.
I am often times wondering how the young,
"African-American" woman, who looks very
Caucasian, on the cover of my new fiction, feels.
Surely: she has to be going through something.
-- Kathryn S. Carrington
(Kathryn S. Carrington is a published author and
freelance writer who resides in Laurel , Maryland .)
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