Darya Nicol, ‘Reflecting On My Melanin”

I grew up altering myselfthis feminine body deemed Black to fit into molds sanctified as worthy enough to please the white misogynist’s gaze. Displeased, I contorted myself despite being born into a lineage of stunning Black Sierra Leonean womyn, each having defied multiple society’s odds to live lives of meaning. To be viewed as a Black womyn is to continually choose, through trial and error, to refuse to yield to the warping and contorting of systems that were not meant to make sense of my personhood. To inhabit this skin means that I must nurture the ability to choose myself rather than be fed false nutrients.

As Black people, we must continually dare to reimagine and reaffirm ourselves in images of clarity rather than caked on layers of distortion.

Joining the editing team of MelaNation, I was drawn to playing a part in constructing a world in which even the most “othered” among us can thrive. Each submission, each act of defiance,  works to chip away at falsehoods, helping us reclaim our true, melanated selves. We add to the stories that make it harder to siphon from us the core of who we are and must become. Through the act of creating, we dare throw rocks at the funhouse mirrors we’ve been forced to look upon.  We work to reconstruct viable, breathing workings of ourselvesreclaiming wholeness. Through storytelling, we reflect back to one another what wholeness looks like.

I view MelaNation as hoping to remind us all of who we are as a collective and as individuals. We are creators, we are innovators, activists, family, they, us, we. We are whole. I’m thankful to create and help foster the creations of others.

Darya Nicol

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