If you’ve ever been to school, you’ve heard it: students teasing one another for the most inane things. Stupid though it all may be, those words are hurtful and easily internalized.
Now, you might remember some kids teasing others for having dark skin, or for having light skin, or for not having a perm or having braids. You might think in today’s more woke world that all that’s in the past.
Well. It’s not.
Lovely Hoffman, a teacher at Boston’s Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy, noticed comments about their looks were beginning to take a negative toll on the young girls she teaches.
Hoffman told the Boston Globe that she faced similar slights as a young woman, being told that she didn’t have “the right look” to be a singer and that as “the only dark girl” in her singing group, she “was always made very aware that I was different.”
She admitted, “That stayed with me for a while. Throughout high school and throughout college, always questioning whether or not I had the look to be an artist, to be a singer.”
Determined to do all she could to ensure her students weren’t racked by the same self-doubt she had been, Hoffman took her talents and wrote a song called “My Black Is Beautiful” to encourage them.
The song features Hoffman’s students, and is full of body positivity, celebrating the full spectrum of black appearance. The song works through common points for ridicule with lines like, “look at her size, look at her weight, she is too curvy, she is too slim, or even too thin” and “look at her face, look at her skin, it’s either too dark or it’s too light, her complexion’s not right,” before affirming with its chorus, “my black is beautiful.”
Students say Hoffman’s song couldn’t have come at a better time. One, 14-year-old Michayia Howard, was recently told by a classmate, “I don’t like dark skins or brown skins … I would only choose white skins.”
Another, Mariama Kaikai recently learned that her aunt once habitually applied skin-white cream. And seventh-grader LaTavia Hobson told the Globe that while “for a long time I used to call myself ugly,” that “the song lyrics saying how we’re all different but we’re beautiful, it really got to me.”
This is just the reaction Hoffman was hoping for. “As an educator,” she said, “My job is not only to make sure students master their academics but also to educate the whole child.”
We’d say Hoffman has done just that. Check out the video below, and on iTunes.