Pulling Off the White Mask

I had told myself for years that I wasn't affected by racism. Can you believe that? But I did.

I was very good at living a compartmentalized life. It was the way that I could survive. I was in my 50s before God revealed the harmful impact racism had on my life.

Before I went to sleep one night, I asked God, "What is this thing on me that I am battling?" Then, I received this dream message.

A small group of white people said they wanted to help me as they poured this white liquid substance over my head. "You'll look better with this," they said. Other people stood in a circle, waiting for their turn to perform for this group of leaders.

"I don't want to perform for these people," I thought, excusing myself to the bathroom. When I peered in the mirror, I saw the plaster covering my head and entire face.

"This looks awful!" I thought, pulling off the plaster that had begun to harden. I peeled off the first layer, then the second. Now I was my real self-wearing natural hair.

Although my hair still had some tiny white specks, my naturally curly hair was prettier than my processed hair. I shone brightly.

"Why would they pour this on me and want to cover who I am?" I asked.

"Because you're Black, and they weren't comfortable with that," a voice responded.

I awoke from this dream, pulling the white mask off my face and praying. This dream shows how I'm no longer allowing whites to conform me to an image that makes them feel comfortable.

I'm no longer doing things by white Christian standards so I can be accepted.

From an early age, the culture around me told me that my hair was unattractive and that it needed to be corrected. For example, I learned that kinky hair was ugly when Mom started giving me relaxers when I was five to straighten my hair.

I conformed to white standards all my life by trying to appease to fit in, hoping to belong. But by doing so, I hid who I am.

Now, I'm peeling off the layers of beliefs, assumptions, and expectations. I'm taking off what whites expect me to be so I can be who God created me to be. He says I'm beautiful, with kinky hair and all.

I'm so happy I can wear my hair naturally and feel good about myself. There was a time when I was embarrassed to style it that way because I was afraid of how my white friends would react.

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