"My Hips Invite You..." Nina Simone
I had a complex bout the skin I was born in back in the fourth grade, when my father placed me in a new school across town. It was an elementary school in Bellerose,Queens far from my Hollis,Queens neighbrhood at the time. I was placed in a classroom full of Caucasian student's and me being the only African American young girl with beads in my hair, in the class and the only the fourth Black student in the whole school. I looked at them and wanted to be them (Caucasian)...I looked at them and always desired the long hair, yet they were more fascinated with mines. I didnt understand it, I said to myself "did they not know how beautiful they are" When I should have stated to myself, "Candace you are beautiful from head to toe" I looked at their eyes and I had longed for them like the girl, Pecola in Toni Morrison's book "The Bluest Eye":“It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights—if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different.” (38)
I say all of this to say I didn't come to fully appreciate my Blackness till my senior year in high school. I wore my hair in natural twist and loved my caramel/brown skin tone. This song by the "Iconic" Nina Simone makes me feel proud to be a Black "Sistah" whenever I hear it. I embraced my African/Caribbean heritage and who I was born to be with pride. The first verse in the song captivate's my ear,Nina Simone speaks in depth as she expresses who these four women are ...
"My skin is black
My arms are long
My hair is wooly
My back is strong
Strong enough to take the pain
Its been inflicted again and again"
In this song Nina Simone tells a story of four different women of four different shades and what each woman represents in this story line. Each women's tale is a representation of "US" women in the Black Community. The shade of color of our skin seem's to be a constant controversal matter amongst us Sistahs. The color of your skin shouldn't matter however because of media and the ideal's of our Black Men, who often put us in categories without noticing that they do; we as women categorize ourselves to what is the "norm" or "type" to be accepted as. I say my Sistah raise your head up high, place your hand on your beautiful round hips, speak from those God given succulent lips and scream "My Black is Beautiful" An ode to Nina Simone, she is legendary, inspiring, endearing and I'm forever grateful she sang her message of empowerment to million's before her death in April 2003.
words by Candace Campbell