As black people in America, we live under a constant cloud of mystery. As much as historians have been able to trace other phenomena of the world, dark skinned people remain earth's greatest mystery. For most people in America, their understanding of dark skinned people begins with the slave trade.
We now know that there were dark skinned people on this continent before the Europeans arrived. Some in New Mexico may have even been descendants of biblical Hebrews. It was 2012 before I had even heard of Estevanico, the explorer who explored alongside Cabeza de Vaca and is the first non-American/ non-native to enter what is now Arizona and New Mexico.
In the US, most dark skinned people are treated the same, still. It's a thing that just won't go away. Even as more of our history is unearthed, we still can't seem to escape the mythical yet systemic throes of white supremacy. As a dark skinned black man, I still get those 'looks' and my children still find themselves fighting stigmas among their peers.
For many dark skinned people, this has become a problem. For me...it's a badge of honor! James Brown said it best: "Say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud!" While I understand that for some people, that exuberant exclamation is troublesome and even stokes fear, I say so what! As a dark skinned person, my heritage is just as thick as my hair!
Streams in my blood include the genetics of China, New Guinea, and America Indians of the Southern sector of the United States. Cherokee, to be exact. It became a joke that so many black people have Cherokee in their history, but understand that many natives enslaved Africans, too.
The man you see today when you look at me is a man of many colors. In the right sunlight, you can see the red tint in my hue. What you also see when you look at me is pride. I'm proud of my heritage and what the amalgam of the many cultures means to me. It means that somewhere before my time, people needed and chose to do life with someone that didn't necessarily look like them.
It means that, my place in the world today is to continue the trend! I am a BLACK man, only because that's the easiest way for this country to understand my own diversity and make it a part of their own. Today and every day, I am a black man!