I love spending time with my older relatives. They have such rich stories to tell, they share so much history and give me perspective. I’m always amazed at what they had to endure and how closely their stories resemble tales of slavery. They are stories white people don’t hear, so it becomes easy for them to think that slavery was over and it has no effect on today. They are stories that the youth of today don’t want to hear so they live in oblivion about where we come from and just how bad things were for us not so long ago. It’s an ignorance that leads people to believe that we are totally emancipated from dysfunction when the truth is, we are passing on detrimental beliefs directly from slavery and thinking it’s normal. I had the opportunity to spend time with a relative the other night. She’s 68 years old and she brought pictures to show me. It’s a conversation I don’t think I’ll forget for a very long time. She told tales of being degraded by white people that had my skin crawling. What was everyday life for her was like something I’ve never seen in any movie. She’s an exceptionally light skinned woman, wearing her cotton jogging suit and wig, like millions of other black women her age. She related tales of a cheating husband and how she had to cope with that in order to keep a roof over her head for her children. I looked at old black and white pictures from the forties and fifties of dark skinned men with light skinned black women. I have a huge family. Any family reunion you go to, you’ll see that the majority of the male relatives under the age of 55 are married to or have baby mommas that are white women. I sat the other night, looking at picture upon picture of cousins with white women and my older relative justifying it by saying how good their children’s hair was. I saw a baby picture of a child who had the thickest hair I’ve ever seen on a newborn child in my life. While I was in awe of this beautiful baby, my older cousin started lamenting over how bad and nappy the hair of this child was and how her mother couldn’t wait to perm their hair now that she was older. My uncle, who only dates black women who are light, bright, and **** near white with long flowing hair, defended this family elder’s assertions by reinforcing that if the girl child did in fact have a “bad grade” of unmanageable hair, that they should look to getting it permed and braided as soon as possible. They laughed and talked about nappy hair while I sat in silence, thinking about the self esteem of that poor girl child, having to hear scores of female relatives and beauticians tell her that her natural hair, the hair god intended her to have, her beautiful African hair was bad, wrong, and ugly. My heart ached for that girl child’s self-esteem. How can she ever feel inherently beautiful if she feels that her natural hair is a mistake? I sat there all night and I could say nothing. I understood that this family elder had no idea that her beliefs were formed from the idea that black people were inferior. The need for black men 50 years ago to have light skinned women was because they believed black was ugly. Generations of black women were told that our hair was ugly and it had to be controlled and changed to look like white women’s in order to be beautiful. My uncle claims that the fact that he’s only attracted to black women that can pass for white has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that that’s his personal preference. It’s his personal preference and the preference of a generation of black men who can’t understand that hearing tales of unmanageable black hair and ugly dark skin forms your preferences. I have cousins who have never dated a black woman in their lives. Their mother’s complain to the black women in the family but praise their son’s choices and compliment them for having children with “good hair.” I know this trend isn’t exclusive to my family. I’ve seen family gathering photos of other people’s families and they justify the fact that not ONE, not one single black man married a black woman as merely coincidence. We aren’t evolving; we are staying stagnant and justifying it. We are still thinking that our natural hair is bad and wrong; we are still perpetuating the belief that light is right. We will perish as a race holding onto these diseased beliefs and hating what makes us black and beautiful. Our dark skin isn’t ugly, it’s gorgeous. Our nappy hair isn’t bad, it’s exactly the way the Creator wanted it to be. Our thick lips and noses aren’t unattractive except if you believe that white people are better. I’m weary from seeing how disabled we are as a people and how intent we are to pass on that self-hatred to our children and exalt that dysfunction as normal.