Eight years ago, I wrote a very personal poem called Brown Girl In The Ring. The piece chronicled my true life experience as a dark skin black girl struggling with issues of self-esteem.
In countries where the majority race is black, people tend to dismiss the existence of colorism simply because we refuse to accept that the mental elements of slavery and racism are still inherently part of our psyche. Why would a 5 year old black girl think she was ugly because she was darker than her other classmates? Where would little girls and boys learn the art of bullying? 7 and 8 year olds are ‘taught’ to discriminate. They learn to love and/ or hate things that are different to their own experiences. Not all young girls and boys will have thoughts of prejudice, but they will all at some point experience situations where an individual is treated with prejudice. Who will speak to them when this happens? Will we continue to be dismissive and ask our youth to just get over it?
The Brown Girl In The Ring is my lifeline. The poem is the reminder that my writing must speak and awaken in young women the need for self-reflection and self-evaluation of their own experiences and capabilities. I make no apology for speaking to my own. I make no apology for wanting to uplift my young black sisters. We are cut from the same cloth. I am them. They are me. It is for this reason why I am so excited to share with you some great news. After years of searching I have finally found the right artist to illustrate the picture book I have always dreamed for Brown Girl In The Ring. Let me introduce you to the awesomness that is is Salkis Re:
Salkis Re is a self-taught artist with a passion for painting black girls. She uses various mediums to create her art work including: water color, pastels, inks, oil and acrylics. She says of her work;
“I want my ladies to speak to your heart, I want them to seem as if they can touch you, talk to you, comfort you. Some assume I made them for little girls, and some art pieces can work very well for a little girls room, but I paint for the little girl in all of us.”
Would you believe I discovered Salkis through a post she made in a natural hair Facbeook group that we are both apart of? She posted one of her newly finished pieces, and I instantly lost my mind. Since first reaching out to Salkis via email, we have spoken multiple times on the phone, and she is just as excited as I am. Our aim is to get Brown Girl In The Ring completed and in circulation before the end of 2015. We are both extremely passionate about this venture because it speaks to our personal experiences and those of the young girls around us.
It is extremely important for little black girls and boys to see images of themselves in the media. It is all fine and dandy to reiterate how beautiful they are, but if they don’t see that translated at all levels in society, then it makes our repeated affirmations to them invalid. The media should reflect the stories, experiences and images of everyone in society. In many cases, it does not. By focusing on only one group of people we subconsciously and consciously practice and teach prejudice. The media is a powerful entity that perpetuates negative stereotypes. As a writer, I am always willing to challenge the one-track vision that we use to define beauty. My writing is specific to issues of gender and race because until there is a balanced representation of all persons in our societies, it is essential that I oppose the status quo.
I cannot wait to get started and finally scratch publishing Brown Girl In The Ring off my bucket list. Nothing happens before its time, and it is time. This is all the information I am going to give you for now. Keep watching this space for updates.