A Reflection on Having Brown Skin

by - February 01, 2018


I am Puerto Rican and very proud of my heritage and skin color, so I wanted to share with you today a little personal post.   I have not faced huge adversity because of my skin color, thanks to my parents who growing up kept me surrounded by nice people who did not pass judgment.  But I go have some stories to tell.  I've broken down my stories when it comes to skin color in three parts, 1. my first childhood experience (realizing I did not exactly fit in)  2. a fun experience in my 20's  (realizing I am beautiful and confident) and 3. my current experience.  I'd also like to preface these stories with a couple points, Puerto Ricans are American born citizens because Puerto Rico is a commonwealth of the United Sates (read about it here).  Although my skin does not look very dark in the above picture I get very dark in the summer, so much that it shocks people (more about that later).  I am so lucky to be Puerto Rican and speak Spanish, I am grateful for it every day.   
I hope you enjoy.

I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania where diversity was seriously lacking, all of my neighbors and classmates were white, but at a young age I did not see the color.  I don't think kids see color unless they are taught to, which warms and breaks my heart at the same time.  I remember this moment, ever so small like it was yesterday.  And I do not remember the moments before it or after it at all.  I was sitting in my 1st grade classroom learning and having fun when my teacher exited the room for who knows what reason, when all of a sudden a boy in the class (and yes I still remember his full name and where he lived) stood up and yelled across the room at me.  He yelled that he did not want N-Words in his school and that I should get up and leave because I did not belong there.  How ignorant right!  Like I said I have no idea what happened afterward, I do remember no one else said anything and that I was horribly embarrassed and ashamed.  I never told anyone about the event.  The first time I told someone I think I was well into my 20's.  Luckily for me nothing like this ever happened to me again.  Although it did affect me and as a kid I used to scrub my skin when it would get dark hoping to rub of my tan and fit in with my friends.  But that all passed and although this is a sad unfortunate story I am happy to share it in hopes of letting others know when things like this happen you can get past it and be proud, successful and strong. 

In my 20's I worked at the 'It' restaurant at that moment in Philadelphia.  The restaurant was packed to the gills every night and you needed to make reservations for a weekend night at least three months out.  While working their I met stars like Megan Fox, M. Night Shyamalan, Frieda Pinto, Jamie Fox and Shia Labeouf, so you can imagine that some our regular clientele was often eccentric and flashy.  I managed the front door of the restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights working with the hosts and getting seating situations figured out.  At the front door I got asked many questions my the clientele but other than "how long for my table?" the question I got asked the most was "where are you from?".  People were so curious, constantly perplexed, wondering my ethnicity.  The obvious answer was small town, Pennsylvania but after that they'd say, "no like what's your background?".  I got asked so much that I'd make a guessing, betting game out of the situation and tell some people if they could guess I'd get them a table asap and if they couldn't they'd owe me a dollar amount.  It was empowering.  And I made a good amount of cash because no one ever guessed Puerto Rican.   Which leads me to my third part...

These days the most common comments about my skin color are "oh, you don't look Puerto Rican" or " wow, what a tan!".  I love the second and am indifferent to the first in the same way I am indifferent to a total stranger asking "where are you from?".  I'm not quite sure what it means to not look Puerto Rican but if I was a sensitive person I could be insulted by it but I don't believe in making mountains out of mole hills.  It is just a honest reaction from people and I don't surround myself by ill willed people so I know the intent is not to be mean.  Another funny thing I find myself dealing with lately is that my skin color is constantly changing depending on the season and lately I am seeing NO sunshine.  I am so pale, for me, right now in the midst of the winter.  I am constantly changing my makeup especially the shades of CC cream I use and the concealer I use.  It's so silly and funny but also expensive, ha!  I wanted to end on a light note.

Thank you for stopping by and have a lovely weekend!
Go Eagles!
E-A-G-L-E-S!
xxoo
Sharon



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