Being Black in Asia – Part 2

When I got off the bus in Cambodia I was surprised by the variety of skin tones I saw. The people were extremely beautiful. Their skin colors ranged from Snow White to midnight and I fell absolutely in love with the Cambodian people. The further south you travel in Asia the more Asians you meet with darker skin tones. Although it is still a rarity to find cream, moisturizer or deodorant without whitening properties.

In Asia white skin is regarded as beautiful. Darker skin is associated with working outdoors and of a lower economic standing. In 95 degree weather the women are completely covered up without an inch of skin exposed in an attempt to protect their skin from darkening. Furthermore, I have not seen one dark skinned person featured in one advertisement, billboard or television program. The beauty stereotype that white is right and beautiful is deeply rooted in Asian culture and history.

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I’ve realized that I’m an introverted extrovert. Sometimes I want to shine and be the center of attention, other times I want to hang back silently and observe. Being Black in Asia doesn’t give me the luxury of blending in. Everywhere I go, I’m an anomaly. People stare, try to touch me, take photos, laugh, and point. I don’t understand the language so I don’t know if what they whisper to each other when they walk up to me and touch my hair or giggle in groups as I pass is good or bad. I do know that it makes me uncomfortable. It’s taken me months to even understand how I felt and be able to write it down. I’ve had a range of emotions run through me, from anger to passivity to my current state of acceptance. I’ve resigned that I’ll not let people see that their reactions to being in the presence of a black queen bother me. However, I will check them very quickly if they are disrespectful.

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Mainly I straighten my spine, square my shoulders, add an extra dose of swagger to my walk and hold my head up high. That way when they say they’ve seen a black woman, they’ll say she radiated confidence and self love and when she walked through town she made it her own.

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