Dear Sister of Color
“Dear sister, today I became my best friend.” Those are the words that changed my life, and those are the very words I am here to tell you today.
We tend to tell ourselves that the culture that we store in our blood will be “just a phase,” forgetting that every curve, dimple, and birthmark is planted right where it needs to be. Our bodies are not meant to be ignored, our colors are not meant to be hidden, and our words are not meant to be lost.
This is to the days when your body will feel unrequited love. Hug yourself and understand that you are not alone. There will be a time when you feel like your body is a stranger; a floating mass rejected from your own mind.
This is to the days when your mind will feel empty. Read yourself and understand that you are gracious. There will be a time when you will feel like your mind is closed shut, keeping out all the beauty surrounding you.
Not too long ago, I was in my art study, trying to find a picture of the famous Frida Kahlo. Trying to practice my oil techniques and face structure. I was looking and looking for the right position of Frida’s face, but instead I came across one of my favorite quotes. Frida stated, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” Those words were a bell to me, alarming me out of the shell I held myself in. I repeated those words in my mind.
I realized that I wanted to paint myself—and no, I am not referring to painting myself from watercolor, oil, or pastel, but by the words that make me “me.” Like many other women, I arranged personal priorities and put myself at the back of my own pocket, hidden and a mystery.
This is to the days that loving yourself will open the doors to the one thing everyone is perfect at— trying. Give yourself a chance to make mistakes and learn from them.
This is to the days when you will look in the mirror and be overwhelmed by the beauty you’ve been rejecting. Cherish yourself and paint the multiple possibilities that write your name.
I have realized that my purpose in telling you this is not to feel sorry for yourself. I am expressing this because there are still many of us who are still rejecting ourselves due to doubt, stamped titles, and multiple other reasons. My purpose of telling you this is so you can wake up and be overpowered by the beauty running through your veins, the potential you have to change the most important life: your own.
Sister, this is to the time when you’ll stand tall and be proud of the heritage and culture you have within every bone of your body. Say “hello” and “hola.” Express it as if it was your last greeting. Dance and move to the rhythm that salsa sways, as it twirls around you like a folkloric skirt. Cook, and not because you are a woman, but because spices make you tasteful and “hot.”
I think about the multiple times a woman of color is degraded, and only because they are shades darker than the “normal.” As if our backgrounds and countries mean that we cannot possess the same power of someone who is lighter of skin and has the title of “white.” Discriminated against and belittled too many times because we aren’t just “women” but “women of color.”
Maya Angelou once stated, “We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal of value no matter what their color.” I, like many women, was raised in a family where we did not see color but the goodness of others, but I will not deny the multiple times where my first language became a weapon used against myself. And the several times when others made me feel like my skin was a mistake. Though I may have experienced the harshness of people’s ignorance, I have the choice this day whether to let them define me.
Be your own definition of beauty, and welcome it to your life. Be your own definition of love, and never let go. Grasp the goodness you have and the potential to make changes, and use them to write a story to change history. Be the person you want to be, because you say so.
This is to the days when you will speak the language of love to all and create the story waiting for you to write.
This is to the day when you will finally say, “Today I became my best friend.”