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  • Lugenia Radford

My Gift, My Shine

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The young girl was to grow up without her father (he passed away when she was five). She was the 'baby' and her father's 'favorite'. She looked just like him, with rich dark skin and big round eyes. She had three older siblings; each was a different shade of brown, and her mom had a light brown skin tone.  She had a happy childhood as they were quite close.  The mother was a domestic, so by society's standards, her family was considered poor at the time. The young girl enjoyed the usual activities of playing outside and having dinner with her family. She was loved.

As she got older, her mom allowed her to participate in classes at the park district in the neighborhood. That's when it began. She was often called 'blackie’ by mostly the boys. She could not figure out why. It was hurtful, but not so much as to destroy her self-confidence. She looked like her dad, and she was so proud of that. She had always felt 'pretty' and couldn't imagine why the little boys did not like her skin color. Her father had dark, rich skin that she thought was so beautiful. She knew she had his skin. She felt very proud to look like her dad.

She grew up when being a dark-skinned person was difficult, to say the least. The whys of this global issue have filled many books.

She was fairly quick-witted, and this endeared her to her teachers and her friends' moms. Before she reached the age of eleven, she was acutely aware of how her skin color was the nemesis that gnawed at her happiness. It made her sad. She could never figure out why. 

She made it to high school and made many lifelong buddies. These classmates did not judge her or try to make her feel 'less than.' Again, she felt the love. Her sense of humor and being a good friend allowed her to shine. Having her dad's skin allowed her to shine.

Growing older, she could accept that her chocolate skin could not and would not be acceptable to some. Just her presence in certain situations even infuriated some. Because of this, she could discern the navigation of interacting with people in general. Over the years, many of her accomplishments resulted from a miscalculation of her intelligence based on her skin tone. 

As an adult, she finally realized that her skin was her superpower. It was a wonderful and unique gift her dad had given her, and she always treasured it. She knew many judged her gift as a flaw - their mistake and loss.

Despite the efforts to dim her beautiful, happy light, she excels. She knows now that emitting that light and persevering during challenges allow her to shine.


Lugenia Radford

I am originally from Chicago (so proud!). I‘ve lived in several states - Washington, Georgia and now North Carolina.

I am a retired middle school teacher. I taught social studies, science, and language arts.

Language arts was my first ‘love.’ I enjoy reading, writing, and listening to live music. I live a very simple life and am so very Blessed. Life is good!

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