By Mitzy Quarless Jimenez — I’m a Panamanian, Afro-Latina and a proud repper of all things negritud. [ Here is my story ] because it is one of positivity and one that has kept me strong despite the world trying to bring me down for things I have no control over.
Being a WOMAN, being BLACK, being LATINA and as my aunt would say being BEAUTIFUL.
My first encounter with discrimination happened at the age of five in Astoria. My best friend at the time, a Greek girl, came running to me one afternoon to tell me she could no longer play with me because her dad didn’t want her playing with “that little black girl”.
Being so innocent I didn’t see anything wrong with being called the little black girl. I just felt bad about not being able to play with my friend so I told my aunt. My aunt, a strong opinionated, extremely passionate and articulate woman didn’t take well to my best friend’s dad’s comment and put him in his place. Later that day she planted a seed of self love in me that would stay with me forever. She would call me her negra linda and would go on and on about how my skin was beautiful and people would be jealous and say negative things about it when I’d get older.
But that they’d only say those things because they couldn’t have my silky dark skin that glistened whenever the sun would hit. She would say that she’d do anything to have my complexion. She is a few shades lighter than me.
Fast forward to my high school days where I faced discrimination from lighter skinned black girls and lighter skinned Latinas. I had no idea where to fit in but I knew one thing, I was BOMB and I didn’t need anyone to tell me that. As an adult I began to hear comments about how “I am pretty for a dark skinned girl” but none of those things even made a dent in my self- confidence.
I will admit that pursuing a career in beauty and fashion has exposed me to the reality of those industry’s preference for lighter skin and European features. However I keep pushing because I know there’s an Afro Latina out there that would love to see another Afro-Latina as herself on social media that she can look up to.
I believe all women are beautiful no matter their race, culture and complexion. I believe beauty is a mindset and confidence is key to exude that beauty. I believe that loving ourselves and our imperfections is literally the best thing we can ever do.
When we love ourselves we can love others fully and uplift those who are down!