28 Chicago

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

For the rest of the day and into the next, I thought about Ruby’s eyes. I had handled the moment badly, I told myself, made her feel ashamed for a small vanity in a life that could afford few vanities. I realized that a part of me expected her and the other leaders to possess some sort of immunity from the onslaught of images that feed every American’s insecurities-the slender models in the fashion magazines, the square-jawed men in fast cars- images to which I myself was vulnerable and from which I had sought protection. When I mentioned the incident to a black woman friend of mine, she state the issue more bluntly. “What are you surprised about?” my friend said impatiently. “That black people still hate themselves?” No, I told her, it wasn’t exactly surprised that I was feeling. Since my first frightening discovery of bleaching creams in Life magazine, I’d become familiar with the lexicon of color consciousness with the black community-good hair, bad hair; thick lips, or thin; if you're light, you’re all right, if you're black, get back. In college, the politics of black fashion, and the questions of self-esteem that fashion signified, had been frequent, if delicate, the topic of conversation for black students, especially among the women, who would smile bitterly at the sight of the militant brother who always seemed to be dating light-skinned girls-and tongue-lash any black man who was foolish enough to make a remark about black women’s hairstyles. Mostly, I had kept quiet when this subject was broached, privately measuring my own degree of infection. But I noticed that such conversations rarely took place in large groups, and never in front of whites. Later, I would realize that the position of most black students in predominantly white colleges was already too tenuous, our identities too scrambled, to admit to ourselves that our black pride remained incomplete. -P.197, September 30, 2021

--

--

--

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Anti-War Moment & Campus Racism

NAACP Sues Trump and Giuliani, Citing White Supremacist Conspiracy

I Don’t Celebrate Black History Month. I Honor It.

A Case for the Afrikaans Language

Calling Out the Racism of the GQP

The University of Pennsylvania Misuses Dead & Unidentified Black Child For “Educational” Purposes

Figments of my Imagination.

Racial Microaggressions in the Classroom

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ellie Kim

Ellie Kim

More from Medium

Did you grow up eating chicken noodle soup? #shorts #ketorecipes #recipe

POST-COVID 19 REHABILITATION: **BREATHING EXERCISES**

AZCashCode Review: Start Earning Free Amazon Gift Cards Today!

How to Start a Travel Blog: Try these Handy Hacks