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Pick Your Own Shade

Every morning, after realizing I have been gifted with another day, I say my prayers, make my bed, and start my morning routine. While getting ready for work, I listen to Tasha Cobbs radio on Pandora. It gets my spirit right and prepares me for my day. Because I’m too cheap to upgrade my Pandora, I still have to listen to the commercials. I hear these same commercials everyday but yesterday one of the commercials caught my attention.

This particular commercial was for a body tanning company. The woman was so enthusiastic about her visits to this particular place. She boasted about the great customer service, the welcoming atmosphere, and perfect results. All good, right? But this is what made me put my makeup brush down...one of her hyping points she gave was “You Can Pick Your Own Color!” Yep! You read that right. She said when you walk in the door, you can pick your own color. That statement sent chills down my spine.

As a black woman, a black person in general, it’s so annoying to have a person that is not of color walk up to you and indicate that their tan is going to make them your shade. I HATE IT! And some might say it’s harmless. Some might think it’s just a light-hearted comparison. But let me tell you why it’s not...

As a black woman, I don’t get to pick my shade. I don’t get to change my skin appearance by walking into a store and swiping my debit card. The shade, the shade alone, of my skin carries so much weight. The unaltered shade of my skin sometimes determines whether I get a “You’re Hired!” or “Thanks for your time.” The unaltered shade of my skin often determines if a bank loan gets approved or denied. The unaltered shade of my skin gets me followed around in department stores. The unaltered shade of my skin makes people pull their belongings closer to them when I sit beside them. The unaltered shade of my skin makes me afraid to reach for my license and registration during a simple traffic stop. The unaltered shade of my skin makes me have to work three times harder than you to make half of your salary. I know. It was just a simple commercial for a tanning salon. No harm, no foul. But some things have a deeper meaning to some people. To one, that “pick your own shade” was just a decision to be made for a personal appearance. But “pick your own shade” hit a little different for me. Because I can’t pick my own shade. Because tho my shade is beautiful, my shade carries weight. And that weight is often heavy!

If you had to walk around with a severe level of alertness, heaviness, magnitudes of consciousness, all because of your color, would you still, pick your own shade?


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