I've loved iVillage for quite some time, particularly for their commitment to bringing quality online content to women. Of late, though, they've gone above and beyond to create stories written by and designed to reach out to women of color, and I'm over-the-moon to see moms who look like me acknowledged, celebrated, and invited into the national debate on motherhood, womanhood and femininity. Just last week, the site's YourTotalHealth section ran a package on the effects of sun exposure on darker skin, dispelling the myth that people of color can't get skin cancer. (yes, sisters, we CAN get skin cancer—no matter how much melanin we have,) and I was, indeed, honored when an iVillage editor invited me to write an accompanying personal blog post about how I came to the decision to take sun protection seriously. Here, a little taste of what I wrote:
See, what you have to understand is that neither of my parents really cared about the health risks of my playing out in the sun; sunburn, melanoma, wrinkles, heat rashes—none of these conditions concerned them a lick. No, their reasoning for keeping me out of the harmful rays was much more practical: "The sun," they insisted, "will make you black."
And Lord knows, the last thing this little African American girl, whose family was integrating an all-white neighborhood in Long Island, wanted to do was be (gasp!) black. After all, light was all right, brown could stick around and black—well, as the little skin color ditty went, black had to get back. The message: Do what you gotta do to avoid getting darker. And if that meant avoiding pools/beaches/soccer fields/the great outdoors/any place where the sun could magically turn milk chocolate girls into Hershey's special dark chocolate, well, then that's how it was going to go down.
It wasn't until I got to college and read The Autobiography of Malcolm X and joined an African sorority and got around some friends who insisted that "the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice" that I lifted my head toward the sky.
To read the entire post on iVillage's Your Total Health, click HERE. If you're so moved, please leave a comment so that they know you appreciate their commitment to writing stories for, by, and about ALL of us.
In the meantime, the Chiles/Millner clan is back from the much ballyhooed camping trip. I'll give you all the delicious details about our two-day, two-night deep-in-the-woods adventure later this week, but I wanted to give you a little sneak peek at some of the fantastic pictures we took. Up top is my beautiful nephew Cole, who has amazingly expressive eyes and ain't afraid to use 'em. And here is my Lila, taking a swim with all her homies in the lake (and yes, she was sufficiently greased up with SPF 30 to protect all that lovely chocolate skin!).