Not the medium tone of black, not the chocolatey black that’s known of sneaker bars. Not the pasty black that makes people purse their lips and take guesses at where you could be from.
Black black. The black that reminds you of coal. Of loamy earth. Nyakim Gatwech’ black.
The kind of black that calls your attention to the fact that colourism can exist within your own backyard, among your own people.
It is hard to see the beauty in this kind of black, especially when society has toned us to believe that black isn’t okay.
When society has created a market of bleaching creams for our insecurities.
The first time I saw Nyakim, I was wowed by the depth of her black skin. It was black in its purest form. Melanin. Beauty at its best.
For those who don’t know Nyakim, this is her story: Nyakim is a model based in New York City who uses her pictures on her Instagram page to encourage black folks to embrace their skin tone.
Starting out, Nyakim faced a lot of challenges. Backlashes of all sorts from even her own. She was told that she was too dark, too black. She was told to bleach, to try to look a bit lighter than she had always been.
I imagine how it must have made her feel, these comments- all because of the colour of her skin. To be rejected and considered too black even among her own people. How many have lost their lives because of this?! My guess, a lot.
Of course, it is not until when one’s breath is gone that one loses their lives. Your confidence is your life. The places you allow yourself to exploit is your life. When you lose some of these options because you have come to see yourself as less than perfect, you lose the possibility of a richer, fuller life.
Nyakim was poked, yet, she did not allow those comments to deter her from scoring the points on her objectives. She persevered. She continued the solitary journey to breaking the traditional standards of beauty. To create a voice for those in the same boat she was in.
Now, it has paid off. She invokes a strong presence in her field. She is nicknamed the Queen of the Dark and followed by almost a million people. Her page serves to inspire those that have directly or indirectly faced the brutal strains of colourism.
She reminds us that no matter who we are, no matter where we’re from, we are all equally beautiful.