Ever since the “Black Lives Matter” rallies media users have been big on sharing post that recognize African Americans as kings and queens and should be “embracing their melanin”.
Melanin is a pigment that is dark brown occurring in the skin, hair, and iris of the eyes. Statements promoting being proud of your melanin can be found in memes and even in clothing designs. So what does embracing your melanin really mean?
Before attending Grambling State University, I attended a university that was 7% African American and I experienced first-hand how people viewed my blackness; from people commenting on how unattractive Black women are all the way to one of my peers yelling across the cafeteria “Hey look, I am eating slave food” when one of the African American chefs made a soul food meal in honor of Black History month.
I sat in my women’s and ethnic studies and the students literally expressed how they view white as strong and powerful and black as dirty and poor amongst other things. Transferring to a HBCU was my way of embracing my melanin. I needed to be where I felt wanted. I needed to be around other people who looked like me and weren’t ashamed of looking like me. I needed to be around people who embrace their melanin.
Embracing your melanin is the new equivalent to “I’m Black and I’m proud”. It is much more than self-acceptance, it is a movement that is on a mission to get Black youth to love and accept each other as a whole. Embracing your melanin means embracing what it really means to be black.
A lighter shade does not make you superior, a darker shade does not make you inferior. Even though being a lighter shade determined whether or not slaves would be working in the house or in the field, African Americans are no longer working in the house watching their master’s children or picking cotton in the field so stop using it as the reason this generation belittles each other. Team light skin and team dark skin isn’t and should not be a thing. There isn’t different types of black. Whether you are light, brown, or dark you are still Black/African American.
Embracing your melanin means to embrace the hardships that come with being Black. The hardships that are identity issues, people viewing you as a threat to society, people assuming you are a fatherless child, and just being at the bottom of the totem pole all together. It is those hardships that makes being black so great.
Black people are set up failure and with that being the sad truth Black people take on the challenge to prove to people that they are inferior to no one. We continue to laugh, smile, and are constantly breaking barriers.
Embracing your melanin is realizing that you are everything that is great. It is realizing that you are feared because you are capable of great things and the world is not ready for your next move. It means realizing that even though you are hated you are still going to smile and continue to dance.
Embracing your melanin is realizing that you are born into a brother and sisterhood and no one is going to have your back or understand you like your brothas and sistas. Embracing your melanin is realizing that you are Emmett Till, you are Treyvon Martin, you are Michael Brown, you are Sandra Bland.
When you embrace your melanin you have embraced the fact that you are without a doubt one of a kind.
Micah Perkins is a sophomore mass communication major from Denver, Colorado.