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During a moment of heart-wrenching vulnerability in front of her peers, a 13-year-old named Janiyah expressed how difficult it is to accept her features as a dark-skinned Black girl.

She visibly fights to cloak her pain when she refers to herself as the black, ugly girl… but when she is showered with love, she can't take it at all. This is the result of slavery, institutional racism, systematic oppression, media bias, and a dominant narrative that our beauty is in fact, not beauty at all, unless it measures up to neo-exotic or Eurocentric standards. While some aspects of the web of racism are more concealed, colorism is overt. We don't even need an overseer or a minstrel show to persuade us to believe farcical notions about our complexions anymore; we are highly effective at normalizing it for ourselves. Just look at trending hashtags such as "team light skin" and "team dark skin" which currently have a combined total of almost 700k posts. This pattern of self-hatred is coveted like an heirloom, gifted by those that disenfranchised our #culture. Many of us, who are aware of color casting, rebel against such antics and are unapologetically proud of who we are. We embrace every shade of black and brown from ivory to caramel, to sepia and maple, to mahogany and oak, to ebony and onyx. We find no need to note differences between our complexions, unless it's a compliment. We walk with our heads held high. For those that I am describing, I salute you and ask that you begin to take a look around: are people still perpetuating colorism in your circle of friends, in your family, on your timeline? Exactly. There's work to UNDO because these deeply rooted seeds of hate are still flourishing among our culture. We are not free if everybody is not free. Mental bondage is the deadliest of all.

A post shared by Valencia D. Clay (@valencia_valencia) on

“I was always the black ugly girl,” Janiyah said to her female classmates at Southwest Baltimore Charter School. “Just because I’m dark-skinned I’m not pretty? I’m not. I always thought I wasn’t because that’s what people told me.”

“Who told you that?” one of the students asks.

Valenica Clay, the students’ teacher, then urged the girls to uplift Janiyah with compliments as they sat in a circle surrounding her.

“Let’s do 10 seconds of compliments to her. Go. Go in!,” Clay says.

With no effort, the girls start pouring compliments into the broken girl. “You have a pretty smile, you have a good personality,” one student says.

Overwhelmed, Janiyah breaks down into tears while her classmates comfort her with hugs.

“I love your voice, I love your brilliance. I love your creativity, I love when you sing. I love how caring you are. I love that bob, stay on fleek!” Clay chimes in.

Clay posted the video to Instagram, where it was later shared to Facebook. To date, the post has over 100,000 shares.

“This is the result of slavery, institutional racism, systematic oppression, media bias, and a dominant narrative that our beauty is in fact, not beauty at all, unless it measures up to neo-exotic or Eurocentric standards,” Clay wrote in her caption on Instagram.

Clay, who spoke with ABC News, also spearheads a non-profit organization called The Flourishing Blossoms, in which she mentors young girls.

She told the outlet that Janiyah continues to feel uplifted as people all over the world shower her with affirmations.

SOURCE: ABC News

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