Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Sammy Sosa's Feeling Unpretty?

2009 Person Of The Year Honoring Juan Gabriel - Arrivals

You can buy your hair if it wont grow
You can fix your nose if he says so
You can buy all the makeup
That M.A.C. can make
But if you can't look inside you...

--TLC, "Unpretty"

I'm so thankful I didn't carry the childhood teases and insults of my dark skin into adulthood. When I saw Sammy Sosa's whitened skin and read reports he may be endorsing a skin-lightening cream the first word that came to mind was "sad." Sosa was a nice looking man before dipping in the bleach. We already associate him with corking bats and rumored steroid-use. Now the Cork Batter is the Bleaching Batter. I know my dark skin falls on the bottom of the mainstream beauty totem pole. And so what. I love my skin and wouldn't trade it for anything. The best thing about being on the dark side of the spectrum is my skin takes its sweet time aging. Melanin is keeping my behind out of the Botox chair. My grandpa is 75 and his midnight face has just a few wrinkles. Thanks grandpa!

Sosa's color complex is not just a black thing. Dark skin carries a stigma all over the world. It's an issue of race and also class. Traditionally, darker skinned indicated one worked outside and performed manual labor. Whether it's Southeast Asia, Africa, Brazil or right here in baseball country--many see darker skin as a negative.

It's sad that so many of us buy into what magazines, television, movies and peers say how we're "supposed" to look like. I watched a young lady on Tyra cry last night because she hates her ears. Know why? Years ago her grade school classmates taunted her, saying her ears were abnormal. Instead of eventually saying to herself "F*ck what they think, I look good," she's insecure. Her ears look just fine. God forbid if she were hit by a bus tomorrow, I bet her ears wouldn't be in her final thoughts. All of the hairstyles or a lover's ear nibbles she passed on because of what some ignorant, foolish kids thought of her years ago. You know I'm shaking my head right now. Girlfriend is missing out.

If you have big ears, big feet, post-baby belly pouch, wide hips, big butt, flat butt, dark skin, light skin, freckles, moles, small boobs, big breasts, wrinkles, cellulite, acne, wild hair, thin hair, tall stature, short stature, all of the above or don't qualify for America's Next Top Model -- you're beautiful. To the women who fall in the ANTM contender category--you're beautiful too. Life is too short not to love yourself because of what someone thinks or said. Mediate on this. Time is passing you by because you believed when someone, some video, etc told you God's design, aka YOU, isn't pretty or good enough. While you hold on to those insults, that person or thing has probably gone tearing someone else down. As my mama always says, "Don't let people rent space in your head." That includes ideas and images in society.

Sammy can have his colored contacts and facial creamy crack. I'm too busy lovin' the dark skin I'm in.


  1. This is a great post. I have suffered with mild acne since fourth grade and did not attend college parties or wear certain outfits because of the self-consciousness that plagued me. In addition to being tormented and teased for much of my life, I also suffered from a severe bout of depression (maybe the two were related?). Being depressed and battling low self-esteem has put my life on hold far too many times to count.

    I love the advice your mama gave you about renting space. This is an eye-opening statement; I've missed out on so much LIFE because I was afraid of what someone would say, or I used past experiences to define how future experiences would play themselves out. I'm hoping to pass on a stronger message to my infant daughter that, despite the taunts and teases or even the positive comments she may receive, she has to be comfortable in her own skin first. Looks fade, perceptions change, and people are fickle. Thanks for this post today.

  2. @ Dawnesha,

    Thanks for your comment. I know you put limits on your social life because of your acne but it's not too late. Now you have a fresh start and can encourage your baby girl.

  3. I just couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Sosa with lighten skin. Just like you said, it's self-hatred all over the world. I feel sorry for him, and anyone else who hates being dark skinned because the darker a person is the longer the skin will remain wrinkle free. Power to the dark brothers and sistas.

  4. As I said on Face Book, Sammy is trying to secure a job on the new craze Vampire movies when he retires from BB. Great post by the way. Where were you when I was coming up? I needed a dark-skinned role model and there were none to be found. But thankfully like you, I was able to make a transition into adulthood just fine thank God.

  5. @ Lorraine--LOL you're right! "Twilight" is hot right now. I guess Sammy couldn't identify with Weslie Snipes playing a vampire in "Blade." I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Young dark skinned girls today are lucky. They have Michelle Obama, the new Disney Princess, Oprah, Alek Wek, the girl from Akeelah and the Bee, etc. There needs to be more but there's more representation than when you and I were coming up.


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