I’m not a white girl in a black girl’s body. I am a black girl in a black girl’s body. Since I was a teen, it bothered me to hear someone call me an oreo, whether friend or family. I am just as much ashamed at the times I used those words too. I see the phrases as derogatory because they downplay the divine beauty in each one of us. Perhaps it was also what caused me not to see black as beautiful—as though I were a colorless soul of a person. If I didn’t see myself as racially black, then maybe the hurtful words wouldn’t sting so much. Somehow, I had cut off a part of my identity and my ability to relate. But now I find myself on the journey of accepting black as beautiful.
For me, the issue of race has been about being human first, then by sex, then by name, and finally by culture. I’ve consistently classified myself as Marvia, a woman who just happens to be black. Yet, I know were I living in another time, it would have been the opposite. My skin color always would have spoken first and determined judgments in people without them ever getting to personally know me. Why does it matter now? Because I want to grow more into myself, love my whole self more, share more without fear, and be 100% comfortable in my own black skin. Doing so allows me to embrace and love others around me without condition. That cannot happen if I’m ignoring or cutting out the obvious physical aspects of what it means to be black, a woman, and a creative force guided by God.
You see, God’s been speaking to me frequently these days about identity, balance, and wholeness. At first I thought it was based on living out who I am in Christ and living it well by ignoring color and race, but it’s more nuanced than that. In fact, it has become more apparent that God’s idea of balance, wholeness, and identity have a lot to do with me being comfortable being me in this fleshy temple in which He housed my spirit and His. It’s focused on me accepting and loving my whole self and the physical expression of God in me on the earth because it equips me to love my neighbors as I love myself. I am learning to acknowledge, understand, love well, and honor what it means to be a bit of Him in the world. It just so happens that I represent Him in a black body.
I’m not saying God is black. I’m saying I am an expression of His image on the earth, and as such, I can accept that black is beautiful, brown is beautiful, baby fro is beautiful, black guitar-singing-paint-slinging-art-journaling-goofy-me is beautiful. I, with God living in me, a pretty brown body, am beautiful! I am made in God’s image, and a piece of Him is reflected on this earth through me. That’s an amazing gift!
I carry God’s heart, His kindness, and His light into the world. It is an awesome and weighty thing to realize that each of us portray a piece of God’s divinity in our respective cultures. The church is a beautiful and dynamic body filled with the multifacetedness of God. He is in all of us, and we are all found in Him—every color, tribe, and tongue.
I am learning to live in the skin in which God cloaked a bit of Himself. I am seeing the beauty of blackness everywhere in culture. It’s in the arts, literature, sports, business, the church, politics, and leisurely things too. Being black is nothing for me to be ashamed of. My eyes are open. I’m looking. I’m choosing to honor the handiwork of God revealed through my flesh and yours. I see more of how black is not less than, offensive, or wrong. Blackness is another expression of God’s majesty here on the earth.
I am a black woman made in the image of God. I am beautiful, and this is more than enough.