And it wasn’t because I thought white people were “cool”.It was because I believed that not being white made me ugly by default. Rather than use make-up and plastic surgery to reconstruct a self-identity, I threw myself into books.Those books did for me what no amount of reconstructive surgery could have done.
Now, we can blame “racist”, “sexist”, “heteronormative” society for this. We can blame the unrealistic photoshopped advertising images that saturate our screens and, by extension, psyches. If we were really struggling we could do our best to blame Kim Kardashian.My (white) mother was so uncomfortable with my black genes that she told me I was of South American, rather than Jamaican (and ergo African), descent – and I believed her. Chiefly anything by or about Malcolm X, or any of the Black Panthers – aged 15 I read Roots, all 700 pages of it.When I was 16, a copy of Frantz Fanon’s 1952 classic Black Skin, White Masks was given to me by white schoolfriends amused by my new militant stance and whose motives, I suspect, were slightly tongue-in-cheek.We can bleat about “intersectionality” and “patriarchy”. But just for a moment, let’s not blame anyone for the fact that Lil Kim has such a compromised self-image – and let’s not [equate Kim]( with Rachel Dolezal, the white NAACP leader who purported to be black, last year claiming a controversial “transracial” identity.Dolezal may have permed her hair but she never changed her features or her skin tone, nor was she filled with tragic self-loathing. For now, let’s just accept all this without trying to blame anyone.But after years of plastic surgery and progressive skin-bleaching, and who only knows what she’s done to her hair, she’s not black any more.