It’s unfortunate, but often in families of color, color plays an important role. My family is Honduran. My siblings and cousins come in every color – from dark-haired, dark-eyed to blond-haired, blue-eyed. In my nuclear family, although we’re all brown-eyed brunettes, my parents, sister and one of my brothers are very fair skinned. Whereas my older brother and I are olive.
My skin color, at some level in my family’s mind (though to qualify this, mostly in my extended family’s mind) made me inferior. When I was really young, I wasn’t consciously aware of it. But I do remember looking at my hands wishing they were pale like my sister’s. Then when I was about seven, my aunt had a baby. She’d had a daughter some years previous, who was “lucky.” She had gorgeous blond hair and ice blue eyes. But her son was born with olive skin, jet-black hair and murky colored eyes (which would later settle at green).
I had been ill, so I wasn’t allowed to see the baby right away. So I asked about him. And another of my aunts told me how adorable her new nephew was. So cute. So small. Then she whispered, “But he’s dark.” My eyes widened, realizing she meant he wasn’t that cute. And instantly I realized I wasn’t that cute. So I loudly said, “Is that bad? Does that mean I’m not cute?”
Okay, I did that on purpose. I got everyone’s attention in the waiting room and my aunt tried to back track. And somewhere in my mind I remembered the phrase, “black is beautiful.” So I changed it to “brown is beautiful.” I said it over and over. Then came the big statement.
Back-to-school shopping rolled around shortly after my cousin’s birth. And I was still on my “brown is beautiful” kick. That year I flat out refused to get any clothes that weren’t brown. I got brown t-shirts, brown sweatshirts, brown pants, brown shoes, brown flip-flops, brown hair accessories, a brown winter jacket. My mom, who had no idea what all the brown was about, begged me to get something with another color. Finally, my sister convinced me to put back the all-brown jacket and get a brown one with blue trim.
I had a lot of self-confidence as a child, something for which I’m truly grateful. And that “brown is beautiful” thing, became a thing for me for the rest of my life. I want to tell the stories of real life. The struggles for justice and equality that are sometimes not so obvious but that we’ve all gone through. I’m grateful for the opportunity at CBS to help launch my writing career and one day to bring those stories to the small screen.