I Am Black and Beautiful {Repost}


By Micky ScottBey Jones | Twitter: @iammickyjones

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2016.


I am black and beautiful,
O daughters of Jerusalem,
Like the tents of Kedar,
Like the curtains of Solomon.
(Song of Solomon 1:5)

There is a word in that verse more important than the rest. It is nestled in the first line, unassuming and often unnoticed.


Not just unnoticed—translated with bias.* This Hebrew word, this little conjunction is most often translated “but.” The passionate woman of the Song says, but, but, but … I am beautiful. Because if she is Black (or dark as it is also translated) she must qualify that and state that she is still beautiful.

AND … BUT … the translation choice changes the declaration. Changes the look on her face as she speaks, changes her interaction with her lover. It is a translation choice that betrays how we have been conditioned to see beauty under the colonizer’s gaze, under the watchful eye of white supremacy.

I know what it’s like to be told, you are Black but still pretty (aka pretty for a Black girl). I know what it’s like to know my hips are too wide, my lips too full and my skin too dark to be who I am and fit the definition of beauty being used by those making the call. I know what it’s like to agree with them when I look in the mirror. If I could only be Black and beautiful things would be different …

#BlackLivesMatter means a lot of things to a lot of people. It is a hashtag. It is a movement. It is an international online forum. It is local groups working on justice for individual cases and issues. It goes beyond the official network started by Opal Tometi, Patrice Cullors and Alicia Garza and has become the rally cry of mothers who weep for their children, innocents wrongfully jailed and children without clean water due to cost cutting measures.


#BlackLivesMatter started as a love letter. After another Black boy laid in the street, a victim of fear, racism and bullet and a jury of American peers said no, that Black boy’s life is not beautiful, it does not matter, Alicia wrote a love letter on Facebook. A love letter to remind Black people:

You matter.
You are loved.
You are Black and Beautiful.

You are not Black but still somehow, some way beautiful. You are Black and you are beautiful. Beautiful lips and beautiful brains. Beautiful thighs and beautiful hearts. Beautiful.

#BlackLivesMatter means Black and beautiful and yes it must still be said, because even now, we are reminded that some would still choose “but” instead of “and.”

Like my sisters and I who are a part of this leader-full movement, we have felt the scorn of those who could not see our beauty. Like our sister in Songs who was put to work because she was a StrongBlackWoman** capable of all the physical, emotional and spiritual work of the world, we are often admired for what we do or what we produce but rarely seen for the totality of who we are.

Like her I say, don’t gawk at me because I am this superhuman being who does it all. Don’t stare at me because I can take all the pain of the world upon my shoulders and still get up one more day.

See. Me.

See I am Black and Beautiful because it is how I was created. I am Black and Beautiful because I am created in the image of God. Do not see me because I am a daughter or mother or sister, your pastor or your personal friend. I may be those things, and I cherish those roles but I may not be able to carry them all the time. In those times I am still Black and I am still beautiful.

In my strength, in my weakness, with a bullhorn in my hand, baking cookies, shaking it on the dance floor, out for a walk, weeping, laughing, resisting and resting—in all of that and so much more I am Black and Beautiful.

I see you, Black and Beautiful.

I finally, finally see myself Black and Beautiful.


*Based on the scholarship presented in The People’s Bible, NRSV translation with commentary. P 804.
**See Too Heavy a Yoke: Black Women and the Burden of Strength by Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes


About Micky:

unnamedI am a mama-activist-contemplative-theologian-scholar who believes in throwing parties as a key revolutionary strategy. I am a healing justice practitioner (Justice Doula), a writer, faith-rooted activist and organizer, and speaker. I love bringing people together to explore the intersections of our lives, awaken empathy and fight oppression. I am obsessed with shalom, spend too much time on social media reading articles and long to lead in a way that would make Ella Baker proud. I believe with all that I am that my liberation is tied up in yours—so let’s get free together. mickyscottbeyjones.com