½: What does internalized racism look like?
I was raised with fairness and anti-scarring creams, told that I needed to look “better”. I was then also reminded that the 'Tall, Dark and Handsome' narrative refers to fair skinned people with dark hair. I was fat shamed for so long that I have lived with recognisable signs of eating disorders. And the lack of positive brown-skinned role models did not make things easy.
For the majority of my life - I tried hard to change the way I look, and yet my skin tone remained too dark to ever be loved and with enough hate that I developed a natural dislike for anyone who isn’t fair skinned. I titled myself ugly. I told myself that I am lesser than anyone who is even half a shade lighter and thinner and no amount of face masks and gym sessions can change the way I am perceived. I agreed that I did not and could never deserve the same things – including rights – as white people, ESPECIALLY when I moved to Australia. It made sense in my head.
Realising this internalized hate and prejudice against my own skin colour has been – and continues to be – the most painful journey I’ve been on. I still try to equate myself actively every time I’m even talking to my best friend who is white. It is hard sometimes even breathing in a room full of white people – both due to internalized and systemic racism.
It is tricky. I’m slowly learning my worth now. Each day.
To be continued...