Essay

January 7, 2020

Jonte Desire

Growing up as a small, brown child, I learned labels quicker than my times tables. Being called "stupid," "whore," "nigger," "bitch," and other slurs took my attention away from knowing the answer to 24x7. I had friends in my community, yet some seemingly had a distorted obsession with my brown appearance as if it were a hot topic, always up for discussion. This obsession became painstakingly clear when an obsessor stated, "Because she's black, she's not supposed to be good at anything." I was twelve. I knew people held such obsessions with my skin, but they were mostly given as gag gifts, wrapped in facades and topped with bows of bigotry.

However, during my sophomore year of high school, I gained an unyielding self-confidence as I researched beauty standards of black females for a school project. My eyes became clear and radiant as they were no longer clouded by the presence of pain, bigotry and its close cousins, racism and ignorance. My newfound confidence caused me to begin achieving straight A's and become a multi-instrumentalist and Sr. Drum major of a 150-member band. I became the first in my family to join the swim team, despite not knowing how to swim, and swam as efficiently as a rock in a lake. However, I persevered and overcame the black-people-can't-swim stereotype, expanding my capabilities. I now set goals that I once believed were unattainable because of my brown skin. I aspire to be one of the few black females in neurology, and establish my non-profit by the end of this summer, as I've become an advocate for tribal malnutrition after a recent mission trip to the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. Because of the education I gained from my research, I have become a small brown child who conquered more than her times tables.

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