Why Black is So Beautiful

I first "met" Patricia Raybon through her book, My First White Friend. Now I know Patricia as one of my dear black friends. And without a doubt, she is a beauty full black friend. Read on and find out just why this is so very true.


Why Black is So Beautiful

By Patricia Raybon

We marched out of the student union, shouting in the frigid winter air, yelling for our natural lives.


Then the punch line:


This was the Sixties, and the era and the ethos of my Big 10 Campus dared transform me from a quiet Colorado girl to a defiant college protestor.

I'd watched my parents march outside of discriminating department stores in downtown Denver. We'd endured bigoted, segregated bias all of our lives-all for only one reason: we were black.

But also ugly? In the world's prevailing eyes back then, white alone was beautiful. Black wasn't. Or as too many folks felt perfectly privileged to say to a "Negro" female: "You're pretty for a black girl."

Then came Malcolm and Martin, Stokely and Angela, and even soul singer James Brown, urging unsure coeds like me to throw off such insults and "SAY IT LOUD!"

I'm Black. I'm proud.

The words meant many things. First, the chant declared we were amazing. And our Black lives mattered, even if nobody but God agreed.

But for a young woman like me, the revolutionaries dared me to consider I also was beautiful.

I already should have known it. Gazing on the beautiful women in my life-Sunday school teachers, neighbor women, my mother's friends, my stunning aunts and cousins-I could see black was gorgeous and lovely, inside and out.

Best proof of that, however, was my own mother. A vivacious physical education teacher at a neighborhood elementary school, she had this look-fit, fashionable, perfectly turned out every school morning in her pristine gym clothes, starched and spotless, right down to her perfectly tied shoes laces.

Then on Sundays for church or for her women's club luncheons-or stepping out for benefit dances in formal gowns and sparkly jewelry-she was, in my eyes, a glittering vision.

"Ooh, diamonds," I'd say, standing at her mirror, trying her rhinestone bracelets on my tiny arms, believing her costume baubles could turn me from skinny kid to Hollywood star.

Surely, my mother was as beautiful as any movie actress, leaving the house on the arm of my dad, too handsome for words himself in his black tuxedo, silk cummerbund and snappy bow tie.

In my eyes, they were beautiful and remarkable. Fighting for civil rights and community dignity, they had the nerve to be stylish, too.

Remembering them, I decided to laugh in 2011 when evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa posted a "research" article on Psychology Today's blog asking "Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive than Other Women?"

After the firestorm (and the removal of the article), I could've gritted my teeth, angry at the gall of such bogus "race science."

But proof of my internal beauty was already established on the harsh, rough surface of a Roman cross. There I'm reminded I am fearfully and wonderfully made-and in God's own image.

How do I know? He hung there for me.

For black me? Assuredly, yes. But he died also for a sad and ugly world-once for all time (1 Peter 3:18).

What a gorgeous gift. Just like you. Just like me. Or as some would call his gift of eternal beauty: amazing.

Patricia Raybon is an award-winning author whose essays have been published in numerous newspapers and magazines. She is author of the critically acclaimed My First White Friend, which won a Christopher Award, and the prayer memoir I Told the Mountain to Move. Her other books include The One Year God's Great Blessings Devotional and a faith memoir coauthored with her daughter Alana entitled Undivided: A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace. Formerly a journalist and professor of journalism, she now writes full-time on matters of faith. Patricia tackles topics that challenge believers to bridge their divides by drawing closer to one another with Christ. Join her on the journey at www.patriciaraybon.com.

© Elisa Morgan 2020

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