Honestly, Deb, if Black women could travel where I go, see what I see, visit the villages and markets and walk the streets where white skin is the exception rather than the rule, it would fundamentally change the conversation. Sometime in the last several years several Denver-based Black high school girls did an exploratory piece on color within color, as in the shades of Black within their community, and the racism of the race against itself. It tore me apart. These girls spoke of how the Blacker a girl was, the more it was assumed she did drugs and was a whore. ( I can’t find the link, Same for men. For anyone who ever read about the genocide in Rwanda, the Dutch who created facial measurements between the two dominant tribes to establish superiority did exactly the same thing. It is hateful beyond belief. I see this in South America, where the darker the indigenous peoples, the worse they are treated.

I have had the most life-altering experiences by putting myself into the deep forests to meet pygmies, to interact with people as far away from cities as possible. The more authentic and untouched the people, the less they measure their faces or bodies against outside (and I might add, unnatural) standards. These experiences have taught me to see beauty, period. Just, period. While behavior is another story altogether, people’s faces are the roadmaps of their experiences. I am beyond fortunate to have had so much interaction with so many people that I cease to see color so much as I want to experience the individual. I have seen such beauty in the ancient, grizzled, toothless faces of the village grandmothers, not just the young women bringing the water to town. To me, this is part of what is so sacred about coming together- how do I see your beauty?

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