The “Black is beautiful” slogan (1960s)

“The Black skin is not a badge of shame, but rather a glorious symbol of national greatness.” Marcus Garvey.

I remember coming home from school in tears, because some boy had called me ugly. He’d taunted me about my dark skin and short curly hair in front of the whole class, who watched on with smiling faces. The humiliation was bad enough, but the feeling that my black features were not considered beautiful was more devastating than anything.

When I told my mother she didn’t say a word. To me, she was the most beautiful person in the world with her huge afro, chocolate skin and full lips. So, I was expecting her to embrace me and threaten to confront the boy. But, instead she disappeared into my parent’s room and came back with a recipe card. She placed it in my hand while telling me to go to my room and memorise every word.

That night, as I looked over my grandmother’s neat handwriting, I realised that I had nothing to worry about. My hair, skin and full features didn’t need to be validated by some snotty nosed kid in my class. The only opinion that mattered was my own.

Now, thirty years later, if my daughter ever finds herself questioning her beauty I’ll know what to do. Thanks to the strong women who came before me, no words are necessary. A 4″ by 6″ recipe card is all she’ll need to dismiss the haters.

The “black is beautiful” recipe

1 cup pride

2 cups confidence

4 “I don’t cares”

2 fierce comebacks

1 teaspoon of strut your stuff

3 teaspoons of love

3 cups of inner peace

2 1/2 teaspoons sweetness

1)  Cream together the pride and confidence, until the mixture is light, fluffy and you can feel the goodness deep within your soul. Add the “I don’t cares” one at a time, being sure that each one is fully incorporated and that you truly mean it.

2) Separately whisk together the fierce comebacks, strut your stuff and love. Now be careful with this stage, as the mixture has the potential to over-react and get cocky. Whisk slowly and carefully, making sure that the love gets the most attention. Add in half of the pride, confidence and “I don’t care” mixture until fully combined. Pour in the inner peace and take the time to fully absorb this ingredient. Repeat the last two steps.

3) Stir in the sweetness and if necessary add more. Be generous with this one.

4) Divide the recipe between your head and your heart. Leave it to fill you with warmth and goodness for as long as you need it. Be sure to decorate the finished product with your beauty and share it with anyone who needs a slice.

Black sure is beautiful.

By Shaurna Cameron

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