Those words delivered by Sug Avery to Miss Celie in the “The Color Purple,” are the most recognized and quoted lines from that movie.
It’s a comedic moment in the film but it could bring painful memories for girls whose bad feelings about their skin color, hair texture and unique features kept them from ever fully blossoming into what they could have been.
I think most girls of color in this country can remember the moment we first realized that our skin tone distinguished us. A good friend of mine who grew up in the 60s remembers being told by a fellow first grader, who was also African American, that she was too black. It was something completely foreign to my friend because up until that moment, she had no reason to believe anything so ridiculous. And even though she’d come from a loving home made of people of all shades who made her feel beautiful and secure, those words changed her self perception.
For me it was comparing my features to lighter skinned cousins of mixed race. Their long hair, fair skin and petite frames influenced by their Asian heritage seemed to be the measuring stick by which some family members doled out love and affection.
I tell these stories because some people think instilling positive messages to our children at home will automatically block out the negative stuff but, sadly, that isn’t always the case.
Mainstream media cannot escape this dangling hook. In reality, peer pressure AND media images play huge roles in how children see themselves.
To counter this negativity, children of color can’t be told or taught enough how to love the skin that they’re in.
The first thing we need to do is check ourselves. So many of us have generational issues with color that we may inadvertently be sending the wrong messages to our kids. What is our tone and even our facial expression when we use descriptive words like dark skinned, light skinned, nappy hair, good hair, pretty, ugly, etc.?
The next thing we can do is give our girls exposure to positive people who look like them. It seems so basic yet is crucial to improving their self-image, and ours too.
Saturday is “International Pretty Brown Girl Day,” a global celebration of girls of color. The sooner we can have an impact on a girl’s life, the better chance of her rising to her full potential without the shackles of low self-esteem and self-doubt.
One of the goals of Pretty Brown Girl is to rejoice in our cultural diversity and that happens through education, encouragement and edification.
The lesson is that beauty comes in every shade but mostly from within. We aren’t tearing down those who look different than us, but simply building up those who may not yet recognize their true gifts.
If you’d like to get involved, it’s not too late for your participation. To find out what you can to do inspire one girl or a group of girls go to prettybrowngirl.com.
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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