I’m not going to generalize this to all Africans. I’m going to speak about my nation. Inferiority complex is implanted in every Sudanese. We constantly bring ourselvesdown. We dislike ourselves. We are always trying to be something we are not. We view ourselves as inferior and others as superior. We need to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery!
The dream of the average Sudanese girl is to marry well and have a lighter skin. Lighter skin is viewed as beautiful (Sudan is not the only one in this case!). We bleach our skins, use lightening creams and use harmful skin-damaging products as long as we become “lighter”.
When my mother was young, she lived with her grandmother for 2 years because grandpa was doing his graduate studies in the United States. She was good friends with her aunts because many of them were her age. The result of early marriages of course. Almost all her aunts are light-skinned and so is her mother. My mum got her beautiful skin-tone from her father. She disliked it. It made her feel less attractive. She secretly envied them. One day, she had the most brilliant idea. At least she thought so. She went to have a shower and ended up scrubbing her skin so hard. She scrubbed and scrubbed thinking the black layer will go away leaving a smooth, light-skinned skin tones she always wanted. This didn’t happen. She bled instead. She moved on with her life but I don’t think she got over it. Ironically, she refused to marry a light-skinned, green eyes Sudanese and prefered my father.
When I was born, I was lighter than her and I had pinkish cheeks. People were amazed at this and my mother was pleased. Later on, I discovered that I inherited her inferiority complex but in another form. It was a typical African female problem. The Afro hair. I was blessed with thick very curly hair. I didn’t like it when I was a kid. Mabye because my mother and sister have long straight hair or mabye because my mother didn’t like it and she didn’t exactly hide that. My family didn’t hide this too. I often heard this from my aunts ” oh you have a nice skin tone, nice brownish color but you sure didn’t inherit your mother’s hair”. I have my Nubian grandmother’s hair, curly and thick. Curls that bounce back. It’s African hair. I’m not ashamed of it. Hair represents so much to people. It shows your heritage. But again, aren’t my people ashamed of their whole heritage? Why shouldn’t they be ashamed of their hair too?
Conversation with mother…
Mum: hey kizzie, we have a wedding tomorrow go straighten your hair
kizzie: why, I will wash it and put some cream. I like my curly hair
Mum: y not straighten it? it will look nice.
kizzie: you go straighten it, I don’t like doing so. It doesn’t suit me
Mum: well mine doesn’t need that, do whatever you want…
So..I’m back from California. I lived by the sea for a week and then next to Bass Lake for a week. We used to go swimming, rent a barbecue boat or just walk around. I’m back with a weird tan ( u know when your body is three different skin-tones) I’m brown and shiny.
Conversation with grandma…
grandma: god, you are darker! what happened?
kizzie: we went to the beach alot, cool huh?
grandma: whatever you say…..
I read an article written by a Nigerian intellectual once related to this topic. He basically blamed some African problems on our inferiority complex. He said that we think of ourselves as inferior all the time. Our self-esteem is low. IT IS. Caucasians are white so they must be happy. White is beautiful. Asians have nice hair. Straight hair is more feminine. Get over yourself people because you are not better than anyone and no one is better than you.
India Arie had to sing about it for people to realize you must be proud of your Afro hair. Toni Morrison had to write a book about it. I just had to experience it to know there is more to me than my hair or color.