I was vacationing with my family in my home country (Jamaica) and we were at the beach. My two cousins (both younger than I am and both way lighter in complexion than me) were playing in the sand. My cousin, who was around 8, said “Let’s play mermaids!” I got so excited and of course responded with much anticipation and joy.
My cousin then turned to me and told me that I couldn’t play. I was so confused and asked her “why?” Her response was “mermaids aren’t dark skinned.” I was so hurt. I think out of all of the times in my life that I had been left out or overlooked because of my dark skin that this was the first time that it had actually hit me like a ton a bricks. I NEVER expected to hear that. Now, this wasn’t my first time experiencing colourism but I felt like I had just been shot. I began to cry… I really didn’t know what to say. I didn’t want them to see me crying. It just hurt me so bad that my brain couldn’t even form a proper response. So I got out of the water and sat in the sand.
The crazy part is I’m 20 years old now and I have never told anyone, not even my cousins, just how much that ignorant comment affected me and my self-image. Isn’t it crazy how one small sentence or experience can just instantly destroy the view you have of yourself. Luckily, today I have never felt more beautiful in my skin. I’ve never been prouder of being dark. I feel radiant. I don’t care what anyone says. I can be a mermaid. I can be free. I am beautiful.
To all the women of colour being made to feel like there is no place for you amongst the sea of mermaids, there is a place for you here. Black mermaids do exist and we are so BEAUTIFUL.