Yesterday, I was wearing my new statement head wrap that I got from my friend’s fashion accesory line. I went to visit my mom and she asked me what it said.
“It’s says ‘MELANIN MAGIC,'” I told her.
She was confused about what my wrap’s statement actually meant. When my mom was growing up, she had a relative that used to call her and her twin sister, “DARK and UGLY.” Her own great grandmother would not give them gifts, because they were, “too DARK.” So she grew up being told that BLACK was not beautiful, and certainly was not CELEBRATED.
So, I get it. I get why she was confused. This proud celebration of blackness is not something that she was introduced to. The statement ‘Melanin Magic,’ is only recently catching waves. It is not something that we have heard all the time. Until now.
I figured now is as good of a time as ever to break this down for people who just may not quite, “get it.” No, this is not another I’M WOKE article.
This is just a practical explanation to a common question that I am sure many more people have. I realize I’m apart of a different generation than my mom’s generation. So, it’s important to explain things that are not automatically understood, even by our black parents.
A few months back I wrote about my experience growing up in the 90s and 2000s as a dark skinned black girl. Yes, growing up as a dark skinned black girl is it’s own unique experience. Just ask any dark skinned woman, she can tell you. You can read about mine here.
But, today we will talk about the word, ‘MELANIN,’ that’s been floating around these days, and becoming more trendy to use by black people.
What does MELANIN literally mean?
- a dark brown to black pigment occurring in the hair, SKIN, and iris of the eye in people and animals. It is responsible for tanning of skin exposed to sunlight.
Melanin is a scientific explanation to why black people have darker skin. But what’s the big deal about it? Some of us are simply born with more melanin in our skin than others. I am not about that tell you that because of melanin, I’m a superhero. I mean, I might be a superhero. But, that’s not what this article is about.
As we know, for centuries ‘melanin’ has been the dividing factor of people as a whole. The darker the skin someone had, somewhere along the lines it equated to the person being seen as less-than (the alleged speech by Willie Lynch, maybe? Look it up).
For the longest, some black and brown people have been taught to self-hate, subconsciously. Some of us were unintentionally conditioned to believe that having dark skin is not desirable.
“Don’t stay in the sun too long, you’ll get too dark.”
RAISE YOUR HAND if you’ve heard that before as a black or brown person.
Getting darker, or developing more MELANIN has been taught to be a bad thing.
I grew up wishing I didn’t have such dark skin. I wanted to be a lighter pigment. Being dark skinned was never celebrated.
Growing up in my home, my parents never focused on the color of our skin. We were taught that skin color didn’t matter. We were taught that people were all equal, no matter what color we were. Which in theory, that’s true.
But, despite being TAUGHT that, I still learned from the world around me, that being dark skinned meant being less beautiful. It did not have to be said explicitly, but it was understood according to the lack of representation and subconscious messages presented around me.
Imagine that, as a BEAUTIFUL little black girl. I felt devalued because of something out of my control. The MELANIN in my skin.
I remember going to buy dolls and seeing NONE that were similar to my color.
As a professional in the childcare industry, I have learned a lot about children. I have seen how children like to use their imagination. Children like to pretend that they are their dolls/toys, and find similarities between them, and characters that they like.
But, when I reflect on my childhood, I remember that every single doll on the shelves at the store, and every character I liked, usually did not look like me. And if they did, I did not think they looked as pretty. I would not pick the rare black doll.
As a child, I saw no dark skinned representation in the mainstream. I wanted to see myself, and since I didn’t…I thought I needed to look differently than I did. I thought I needed to be lighter. I did not see myself a beautiful.
Fast forward to now…
We are living in a time where black and brown women are standing proud in their black and browness. We are living in a time where businesses and brands are finally realizing that representation of all people MATTER.
We are finally celebrating the things about us that we once were taught to hate. We are LOUDLY celebrating the things about our culture that we once did quietly, so as not to offend anyone else. I think it’s because we were taught subconsciously that being black and brown is offensive. We know NOW that MELANIN is not offensive.
That is quite literally life changing for some of us. We don’t have to be apologetic for being what was once considered, “too dark.”
It’s beautiful to FEEL beautiful! It’s amazing to boldly and unapologetically celebrate the one thing about myself that I used to hate. That feeling is magical. That feeling is finally loving ourselves, as God made us.
That feeling is what MELANIN MAGIC means to me. I finally don’t see the pigment of my skin as less-than. That feeling is what so many black and brown women are FINALLY experiencing!
I believe in affirmations. I love quotes, and positive words being all around me. You can even find affirming quotes and scriptures on the walls of my home.
I believe that what we constantly tell ourselves is what we will believe. We have to be reminded to stay positive. We have to reverse negative thoughts, and negative beliefs about ourselves. It has to be on-going.
After years of feeling like I needed to hide from the sun, to avoid becoming too dark…it’s beautiful to know that the melanin in my skin is not a bad thing. God made us all different, and it was not an accident…so, we don’t need to hide and act like God messed up when He created black women.
So, when I wear fashion that celebrates blackness, it’s an affirmation. It’s a reminder to me and other black and brown people that we are beautiful, TOO.