My skin

From my book ‘When I Couldn’t Sleep’ written many years ago

TB Obwoge
4 min readFeb 25, 2022
Authors Photo (my hand)

For years in my life as I was growing up I often listened to my mom describe herself as mahogany. People would laugh an say things like, “You’re so crazy Denise!”

I never understood what she meant or better yet why they would say that, to this yellow complected, red haired, freckled faced woman I knew as my momma. Maybe because I didn’t know the word mahogany or maybe I just didn’t want people calling my momma crazy. Yet as I got older and learned about being black as taught to me by those that were white.

Those that hated my very being, just because I was one shade darker than they were, or cuz’ my momma was prettier than their mommas.

Yet was dark as coal in her heart but not on her skin. I too began to say I was mahogany! I wished that my skin was the purest color of black kinda like liquid tar that shinned in the sun with the coating of oils I would use on it daily.

I wanted to be able to hide my face in the darkness, to view my skin against the contrast of all white cotton an be able to know that my very existence was rooted in the beginnings of all life on the African continent!

I wanted to be so black that my color couldn’t be ignored in a room full of those who were inbred with a hatred for my race. I wanted to be able to be unapologetic-ally black. I wanted my skin to be the first thing you knew about me! I wanted people to see that I was a representation of all those souls lost, raped, murdered, beaten, stolen, forced to toil in the fields or houses of those hateful ignorant bastards that cowardly hid behind weapons & brutality.

To overcome a more powerful race than theirs. I wanted to be able to show that I am not the byproduct of those cowardly ones either. I wanted to be so black that I could dance in the light of the sun while shinning like the river.

I wanted to be black like the terror they used to keep us in line while they broke our spirits and stole us from our land.

It was hard for me to hear people ask, “What are you mixed with?” Or “Why’s your mommas skin so white?”



TB Obwoge

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