Lov­ing Me is Too Dark

The McGill Daily - - Contents -

I don’t think I’ll ever for­get the day you told me I was dif­fer­ent. The day all my child­hood mem­o­ries ran out of my room, fast like air es­cap­ing my lungs. My room no longer safe, the white walls now tainted red.

The bright lights my dad had hung to scare the de­mon away be­came dim­mer than ever. I would stare at those lights ev­ery­day as I thought of the names of our chil­dren. The dark wooden frame hold­ing my bed to­gether matched the colour of my heart. This was my space to con­jure the sto­ries I would tell our chil­dren, the sto­ries of us grow­ing up to­gether. Un­der the blan­kets warm­ing my 15-year- old self, I would tell my par­ents’ grand­chil­dren of how mommy and daddy lived side by side, with only a cou­ple of houses di­vid­ing their love.

Each mo­ment we spent to­gether, I doc­u­mented your smile, how your eyes re­flected the Earth’s finest soil, and how your skin was purer than the clouds. In the mir­ror of my pur­ple van­ity, I see us hav­ing break­fast in our lit­tle kitchen nook with the sun pour­ing in. Our kids star­ing in awe as we joy­ously nar­rate this story.

“That re­ally hap­pened?” they would ask in deep cu­rios­ity.

“Yes, that’s to­tally how I re­mem­ber it! C’mon, you’re ru­in­ing the story, hun. I was on a roll,” I say for my­self, my small hand leav­ing the plas­tic frame of the van­ity my par­ents had bought me when I grad­u­ated el­e­men­tary school.

I think what I loved about you most is how you made me feel.

You made me feel like I de­serve to be here, there, and ev­ery­where. In my body, in our neigh­bour­hood, and beyond that. You val­i­dated my ex­pe­ri­ences, my suf­fer­ing, my pain. Fi­nally, a man, a fair one, with cheeks as red as my pas­sion for him, un­af­fected by the trou­bles of this world, and ea­ger to con­quer it all. And the best part — he isn’t scared to be seen with me. Fi­nally, a man with such priv­i­lege, play­fully walk­ing down the hall­ways with his arm around me. Fi­nally, a white man that can make me for­get that I am me.

“I am not into Black girls, I think they look dirty.” “You know, a group of white girls look clean. It’s just not the same when you see Black and Brown girls.” “You know, you’re re­ally not like a lot of Black girls in our area.”

This is the sound of love. This is what it sounds and feels like. It feels like go­ing home af­ter a long day, like the sun af­ter dark­ness, and like heal­ing af­ter pain. His saint-like abil­ity to see beyond my com­plex­ion and my body was love. To him, I wasn’t like the oth­ers. That was love.

I re­mem­ber the day I lost you in colour. It had started as a foun­da­tion for an­other story we could tell our kids in the park while hav­ing a pic­nic. I thought of the way I would be­gin the story when I spoke to my­self while ly­ing down on the cold wooden floors of my bed­room. An­other mem­ory to pull out of my mem­ory box. We were do­ing our rit­ual thing, hang­ing out in my room talk­ing about life. You said:

“You know, I don’t un­der­stand why Black women are so an­gry all the time.” “I think you should re­spect peo­ple’s pref­er­ences, I don’t like girls whose skin is darker than mine, just like some­one might not like some­one shorter than them.” “I don’t get why Black girls are so ghetto like that and put it on the in­ter­net, too.”

I loved how we could be so open around each other with­out any judge­ment. You re­ally trusted me, a Black girl, with your white thoughts. I laughed, but it was to hide the pain.

Your thoughts took away the blin­ders from my eyes, mak­ing me see how I re­ally was.

The first man I ever loved couldn’t see beyond the dark­ness of my skin, the kink of my hair, and so­ci­ety’s ha­tred of my body.

I had never seen the in­side of your house be­cause your par­ents didn’t like Black and Brown peo­ple. Their space had more value than mine, so nat­u­rally it de­served to be pro­tected.

You took away any love I could’ve ever had for my­self, and when I cry to my friends, I blame those ev­er­last­ing tears on you.

I hate my­self for lov­ing you. I al­ways won­der who I was to think I could fit in that fairy tale. Stupid of me to think my out­come would be dif­fer­ent, to be­lieve that I was wor­thy of be­ing dif­fer­ent. The man full of light­ness doesn’t fall in love with a woman full of dark­ness in fairy tales, he doesn’t save her bat­tered and tired soul, giv­ing her the life that she is truly de­serv­ing of. The pu­rity of his skin, the power of his body, and the pub­lic ac­cep­tance of his pres­ence are all things a girl like me could only ever dream of. Fi­nally, all these years of per­fect­ing my speech, burn­ing my hair, and try­ing to look happy paid off.

The tribal pil­low­cases my mother brought me from Cameroon ab­sorbed my tears. In my bed, I imag­ined the life our lightly-melanated kids would never have to en­dure. It would be vastly dif­fer­ent from their mother’s. Theirs would be filled with val­i­da­tion, grat­i­fi­ca­tion, and safety. How could their shim­mer­ing caramel skin or their bright eyes make any­one cross the street in fear? My heart would fill with joy as I see my daugh­ter’s hair blow­ing in the wind, for­ever pro­tect­ing her from the dark­skin strug­gle. Her hair bounc­ing as she runs to hug me, thank­ing me for the life I built for her. Her hair able to grow quicker than her mother’s wit; her eyes brighter than her mother’s soul.

Growth. That is what I gave you. That is all I was good for. An end­less bucket of sup­port that when­ever life be­came too dif­fi­cult. I made my­self be­lieve that this is what you do when you’re in love.

Un­con­di­tional. The one-word story of the Black woman’s life. Lov­ing you made me blind; I couldn’t see how much you wanted me not to ex­ist as I was.

Even love couldn’t tran­scend a Black woman’s stone- cold at­ti­tude or soften a Black woman’s voice. Passed on from mother to daugh­ter. Black woman to Black woman. Dark­skin femme to dark­skin femme.

All love did was make me blind. Colour- blind to the very peo­ple who want noth­ing but for me to not ex­ist.

This is surely love.

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