From rumbling cities to humble country roads, these places of prayer and worship exist. As soon as I came to each entrance an overwhelming sense of peace and a demand for respect was present, every single time. No matter the location, it is clear that a higher power is present in each and every detail of the arch, pillar and door. You can feel the power of prayer in the stillness of the statues and the time put into creating such beauty.
These Buddhist and Hindu temples and Mosques were my favorite elements of my journey through Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. So much peace dwelled in the stone and gold, reminding me of the importance to always keep my temple, connected to a divine spirit as well as my own. To always strive to posses peace amidst the chaos. And to take time to marvel at the beauty of things that stand silently and speak for themselves.
When I was a little girl my mother always told me she wanted two things that I had that she could never achieve, my thick, curly and dense hair texture and my caramel complexion. She wanted to have the experience of being a black woman who looked undoubtedly black with no questions asked. Her “high-yella” cheekbones and bone straight hair always left her drifting in between color lines although every thing about her was black. She never wanted me to fall victim to the color complexes that she was subjected to by others that she never believed in. So she always told me I was beautiful and made me feel like it to.
My father, dark skinned with seemingly all the melanin God could give one human being instilled the same values. He made sure to point out the brown skinned woman in a crowd and say to me, “Lakin, look how beautiful she is.” He always helped me to embrace my summer sun tans by encouraging me to wear all white and orange and yellows because they looked good on my new hue.
To me, my black was always beautiful.
So I find myself, in China, in the Eastern world so far away from all that I knew. There are no reflections of me on anything that I see except for a glass store window which reminds me of much I don’t blend in with any of my surroundings. Unless of course I’m alone, admiring the palm trees and gardens with not another person in sight. But in a such a densely populated country, outdoors I am never in my own company. In a place where my exterior is often misunderstood, admired, feared and kept at cautious distance due to booming ignorance and innocent curiosity.
So I thank my “high-yella” mother and my blue black father for coming together to tell me that the caramel that they created was beautiful. Because even when I’m offered an umbrella to shield me from the sun, touched to see I’m covered in filth, stared at and I provoke a child to run away screaming as I walk by, I believe it.
I believe that my black is beautiful.