LITTLE BROWN BOY
I have to laugh when I think of the acceptance and my own journey into accepting my browness, my blackness, my Congoness. It is a fact that the world doesn’t make it an easy process. We have all heard of the whole concept of magazines making whiteness the major direction we should strive for. There is truth in that and being born with a wide nose, brown skin and curly hair you know that wasn’t going to happen without the help from a blower and a set of rollers. Of course at a young age it’s easier to change the outside not understanding yet the concept of beauty on the inside. It wasn’t that I couldn’t accept my brownness, it was more the idea of wanting to fit in. No one at the time was sporting curly hair and it definitely wasn’t flowing in the wind. Most times I saw men and women of my color either cut it so short that it gave the appearance of good hair or it was wrapped up in colorful scarves as if to take away from the beauty of those curls.
This acceptance in my youth was nothing about my color. It never dawned on me that I was the darkest kid in the posse, it never ran through my mind that my curly hair needed extra tending to, it never ran through my mind that people outside my circle would look and treat me differently just because I tanned easier, aged differently.
I grew up in a neighborhood where being negrito was an asset. Everyone around me was born and raised in La Isla-Puerto Rico so my color was the norm. It wasn’t till I moved to Manhattan that no one even considered me a latino. It was such a funny feeling how other people much darker than me with coarser hair be in shock when they heard me speak Spanish. Like if me being Spanish wasn’t supposed to be. I still don’t get it as I stay on elevators and have women speak about me in Spanish about how my black ass is trying so hard to look Spanish. Hearing them talk about me as they look me up and down making comments about how my haircut is not for black people. How I want to marry a Spanish girl because it will give me pretty children. It was utterly priceless when I would bid them a great day in spanish. Their faces falling as they knew that I heard their outright racism to their own color. How those comments made them realize that they couldn’t look at themselves and claim their blackness.
I always did. I was raised to love my color. To love how the sun kissed me. To admire that the African in me gave mem benefits to my DNA. I won’t wrinkle easier, my hair won’t fall out faster, my body with its natural physique won’t take much to take care of because of the Africa in me.