Like melanin, beauty comes from within and if skin is just skin, then why should it matter what color it comes in? And why does it make it so hard to fit in, causing anxiety when you're living in a society that is acting with a certain impropriety where because I am black, suddenly I am unclean I am dirty, I should be placed in the back, I'm unworthy of your respect yet somehow deserving of your charity?

It's a rarity to find affection for the warm brown strokes of my type of complexion. But whether caramel, chestnut, amber, or mahogany, just know that your skin is as beautiful a canvas as any. Because the shade doesn't determine the value and neither does the hue, you're priceless and all that matters is what's within you.

My father always told me that I am different, and that the difference is color-specific, and that I will face adversity because of my diversity, and that people will work to see me fail advertently, so I should celebrate every success with merciless certainty!

My mother taught me never to let myself be limited, and that the limits presented by a whitewashed society are rather insignificant, that my potential can't be contained, my dark does not mean damage, and my color does not place me at a disadvantage, for who I am is not based solely on my pigmentation nor does my race define me or my situation.

So stand tall even when the world tells you to bend and stand out when it wants you to just blend in! And when life's not fair and neither is your skin, never give up and never give in. Just play the cards you've been dealt, be yourself--you can't change who you are for anyone else. I'm not cookie cutter, you can't find me on any shelf, Cause what I'm not is what they want me to be, I am strong in my faith and powerful in my ethnicity!

Do not label me with your stereotypes of the past, for although they still exist today, they will not always last. A perfect society may be unattainable, but still I dream of a place where individuality is not just optional but rather inescapable.

So why do we conform to maintain social barriers rather than fight to enforce a change that's much scarier to exchange in place of old ways, on this earth so constantly revolving shouldn't the human race be evolving, maybe even adjusting to its pace, instead of grinding to a halt and staying in place?

If color is the only reason stopping me from conquering this odyssey, then I must put pen to paper to achieve a new reality.

Alesia Devlin