I walked into a bar once, having been invited by an old classmate. Before he came to pick me up, he had been sitting with one of his bosses, a very crude, troll of a man, and mind you I am being very kind. We sat with this boss and I had to endure the most ridiculous and irritating conversation. The guy used terrible language, was very patronizing and had absolutely no respect for a woman. I knew that if I had been on my own this stranger would never have had the undeserved pleasure of my company.
During the painful conversation, Mr Bossman called me something I actually hate. He thought he was paying me a compliment. You should have seen him. The fellow calls me a ‘yellow bone’ then sits back to see how flattered I would be. Of course the response was not what he had hoped for. So he persists and goes on to say how I am a real one too. He pulls my arm and checks my elbow, stating that’s how he can tell the difference between those who bleach and those who naturally are light-skinned . Now, yes I may be lighter than some but I do not consider myself to be a ‘yellow bone’ at all. What makes it worse is that I had actually been in the sun so I was darker than I should be.All I thought was if I’m considered a ‘yellow bone’ then people in Bulawayo must be extremely dark. Our climate is pretty harsh and the sun quite unrelenting. So hey maybe! You might say well, if you are normally lighter, then Nonka, you are a yellow bone. No….point is, people are so dark in Bulawayo that us not so light people look yellow. Any way…who cares!
It is not the first time though! Most of last year I have had to use public transport and I was out in the sun a lot. I decided the whole of the first quarter of 2017 I would just give myself time to recuperate. Get my skin and my health back on track. I wear a hat and a scarf when I go to town these days. The scarf is for when I’m wearing a short-sleeved top. Of course it is all seen as being different. Let me roll my eyes! I do not understand why more of us are not doing that. The sun here is quite damaging. I find the sun actually hurts my skin as it penetrates.When I’ve mentioned this, the response I normally get is “Oh yes especially for you yellow bones,” The general consensus is black skin does not need to protect itself from the sun. Eh….actually we do…but that’s a story for another day.
Something else I’ve been called, that just drives me up the wall, is ‘coloured’. Mixed race people in Zimbabwe and South Africa are called Coloureds, ok! Why would you call me that….and then expect me to be flattered. How is that a compliment? “Ah…..I saw you sister and I just thought you were a coloured. Eish, you are so pretty!” You fool! It’s the same as being called ‘ikhiwa’ (white person). For some reason I should feel elevated by the fact that I am being referred to by another race considered to be more superior. Too pretty to be black. You see if you say to me “Nonka you are beautiful”, I will thank you and appreciate that you appreciate me as I am. However, to tell me I am of another race……..? Firstly……..I am not!
I am a proud, pure black african, Ndebele woman, umaGaluza, umaNgedemane, umntakaMabaleka lenkosikazi yakhe umaMlotshwa, and I am not done! I do not for a minute believe that there is any race out there that is superior to mine just as I do not see any race inferior to mine. No woman is more beautiful than I am nor is she uglier on account of the shade of her skin. I am beautiful, I am strong, I am proud to be black and thank God for who he made me to be. I am not waiting for any man or woman of any race or tribe to come and tell me whether or not I qualify. I qualify because I breathe. I qualify because I too was created in the very image of God as was every other human being. I do not seek nor require your approval. I have approved myself because God has…. even before I was conceived. Let the whites be white, let the Coloureds be coloured, let the Asians be asians, and for crying out loud, I will be black, and black in every way because, guess what….I AM! I love the shade of my skin. Thanks!
For those that do not know this, ‘yellow bone’ in Zimbabwe and South Africa refers to women who have a lighter shade of skin. Such women are seen to be more appealing to the eye than their darker counterparts. If you look up the term you will find the term is used in America and the Caribbean mostly to describe African America women who are bi-racial and therefore have a lighter shade of skin as compared to the pure black women. It can be used to describe pure black women too if they are light enough to be classified as such.
The reason why I actually hate this term is that it reinforces a self hate and insecurity among darker skinned women. As musicians keep singing about yellow bones and brown girls, this is reinforced in all ages of women…….and men. Lighter skinned women are considered more beautiful, more desirable, and therefore more prestigious to have as a partner. In fact a lighter skinned woman is appreciated so much more to the point that it can get her better jobs and respect in society. She will walk into a room and get immediate attention.
Now you would think this should make life easier for a light-skinned woman. Well it depends on how she uses it. Some women know how to work their beauty and get anything and all they want. No one knows however that at times it causes unnecessary attention and prejudice. A woman who is considered beautiful by most is actually not as free. She cannot walk peacefully with zero comments flying even when she just wants to go about her daily business quietly in public places. Every idiot will try even if he is not serious which means weeding out the bastards from the good guys is harder. The guys with egos and something to prove are more in your face than the more timid guys who could very well be worthy of that woman’s time. They can actually be subjected to a lot more abuse than most people would imagine. It is almost as if a beautiful, light skinned woman is everyone’s property. She has to be stronger, on guard a lot more than the so-called ‘plainer’ woman. Other women see her as a threat even when she is not even trying to be. At times she is feared, she mistaken for a snob or something. If she is, she has probably had to learn to be cold or aloof to protect herself, close herself to all the rubbish that flies at her all the time.See, a light skinned person is just as human as any other, wants real friendships and wants to be free to do what ever they want too. It is very difficult for people to understand but that is the truth.
I really pray one day we will stop seeing race, tribe, colour as a qualifying factor. The colonial era, the slave trade, taught the world that black is the most inferior. Different levels were given to each race depending on how light the shade of skin was. It is time that black people changed the way they think. You cannot wait for a white man to tell you that they were wrong to enslave you or to take over your land and colonize you so much so that they degraded you. That is some thing you need to realize yourself. Why should they think they are ordinary and just like you? What if they do not ever want to…….ever? What if they never admit to lying about your history and tainting your image so the world would hate you and abuse you? What then?
You are 100% equal, whether they agree or not. YOU have to know it, see it, believe and be it!
Dark woman…..I am probably lighter than you. I am no better than you. Lighter skinned woman…..you are not better than me. How many dark-skinned women are in good marriages? How many are married? Many! Which means you too will find a man who loves you as you are.How many dark girls are models? So why bleach and damage your skin. It only exposes your insecurity. Rather work on the inside. Work on your mind and your personality. Work on having a real relationship built on things such as trust, communication, respect and appreciation of one another. That is surely going to get your relationship going a lot better than your shade of melanin.
On the flip side have you ever considered what goes on with the other races. That too pains me. As a beauty therapist working on Cruise Ships I was shocked at how ‘whites’ put their skin through so much just to get a little colour on them so they look like they have been on holiday. They actually think their skin looks healthier tanned. We call it burnt. Actually it was when we were in the Caribbean and I witnessed beetroot red people coming back onboard on a cloudy day, that I learnt that even if there cloud cover, the sun is still very harsh. The rays are not stopped by the clouds in any way. Then people needed special creams to help their skin heal from sun exposure after failing to apply protective creams.
I thought of snow-white. She was said to be the most beautiful in the land. Her skin was as white as snow. Well I guess that was a story obviously created long time ago because now if a white person exposes pale skin, it’s considered disgusting and you will hear comments like “argh go get some colour on that skin.” In my head I would be wondering why someones natural shade would be considered ugly.
Then the Asians would be there with all their whiting creams. Had me very confused.
We humans are a mess! No really we are! All these beautiful people who just can not see the beauty in themselves and the next person. I stepped onto those ships and marvelled at God’s creation. How black is black, yes but then there are specific features that suggest that a person originates from a certain part of the world. The whites are different too. The Scandinavians have their different look, which I called the wind-blown features, as compared to the whites I knew who were predominantly of British origin. Then the Asians do not all look the same. It’s just amazing! I looked at all these different nationalities and saw God. I wish I could explain this better but the words are eluding me. We are all so beautiful. Damn it! We just need to see it.
Once again let me say, I am a proud, pure black african, Ndebele woman, umaGaluza, umaNgedemane, umntakaMabaleka lenkosikazi yakhe umaMlotshwa, , and I am not done. I do not for a minute believe that there is any race out there that is superior to mine just as I do not see any race inferior to mine. No woman is more beautiful than I am nor is she uglier on account of the shade of her skin. I am beautiful, I am strong, I am proud to be black and thank God for who he made me to be. I am not waiting for any man or woman of any race or tribe to come and tell me whether or not I qualify. I qualify because I breathe. I qualify because I too was created in the very image of God as was every other human being. I do not seek nor require your approval. I have approved myself because God has…. even before I was conceived. Let the whites be white, let the Coloureds be coloured, let the Asians be asians, and for crying out loud, I will be black, and black in every way because, guess what….I AM! I love the shade of my skin. Thanks!