Love has NO color


Guest post by Jess Okoth  
Photos by: Shaun
Love has NO color: how I found the man who embraced my dark skin
Photos by Shaun

C O L O R — we’re consumed by it, we choose things and even people we like because of it. Some of us love color, and some of us hate it.

My color has always defined me for as long as I can remember. I am a very dark, black woman. If you’re aware of what’s been happening to my people and women (since the beginning of time) who look like me, you may know exactly what this means. I’M A VERY DARK, BLACK WOMAN — enough said. Being me comes with a lot of judgement and I’ve had my fair share of ridicule. Sometimes it’s passive and other times it’s as blatant as the guy selling incense outside of Trader Joe’s calling me “a gross dark, black monkey” because I wouldn’t give him my phone number (that one felt oh so good!).

He fell for this girl who, for the longest time, thought she didn’t deserve love because of the dark color of her skin.

As a kid and a teenager, my peers never let one day go by without letting me know how dark I was. I was taunted and harassed and reminded that I was not the ideal standard of beauty. Do you know what that does to a person? Cue years of self-doubt, years of undoing the very horrible thoughts you created in your head because you actually started to believe the things that were being spewed at you for years on end. Fast forward to my mid-twenties and cue the love of my life…

Love has NO color: how I found the man who embraced my dark skin

In walks Nick, or maybe I should say in saunters Nick, ever so casually. I entered his life much differently — in fact, I ran in. I was eager to chase this hip-hop loving, accent baring, “cool as a cucumber” Kiwi. I had never met anyone from New Zealand at that point and he was so different from anyone I had ever dated — I had to know more! A summer of attending free hip-hop concerts together across Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens turned into a summer of love. He fell for this girl who, for the longest time, thought she didn’t deserve love because of the dark color of her skin.

Love has NO color: how I found the man who embraced my dark skin

Love has NO color: how I found the man who embraced my dark skin

Fast forward five years later, and I’m getting married to the dopest and most amazing guy. Our engagement pictures are an ode to the spray-painted words we found on a wall during our shoot: LOVE HAS NO COLOR. When Nick looks at me, he sees magic, he sees WHO I AM: how I treat my family, my work ethic, how I sympathize with complete strangers, my intense loyalty and love for my closest friends, and my drive to be better in all ways possible. He never fails to remind me that it’s not WHAT you are but WHO you are that truly matters most.

Love has NO color: how I found the man who embraced my dark skin

Love has NO color: how I found the man who embraced my dark skin

Our amazing engagement shoot was shot by our good friend Shaun (find him here and here!) who ventured all around our home base of Brooklyn to capture who we are. We conquered the graffiti murals of Bushwick, posed in front of Jane’s Carousel in DUMBO, and held each other in front of the iconic Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges. We then made our way to Fort Greene to capture the beauty of the park at sunset, to look into each other’s eyes on the steps of a brownstone, to walk hand-in-hand down our familiar streets and serve our best “Jay & Bey” on our unfinished rooftop.

Love has NO color: how I found the man who embraced my dark skin

Love has NO color: how I found the man who embraced my dark skin

Some of our final photos are in color, but my favorite are the ones without, which is so very fitting for this post. I love all of our snaps from that day but the black and white photos are my love letter to Nick. He is one of the few people in this world who truly holds my heart, my integrity, and my actions to the utmost standard instead of the color of my skin.

Love has NO color: how I found the man who embraced my dark skin

Love has NO color: how I found the man who embraced my dark skin

Here’s to love having no color and wishing that everyone in the world loved others this way!

  1. I struggle to write my response as an African-American woman with dark skin, full lips, and a flat nose. I don’t want to sound judgmental or against anyone’s love. There is a lot I understand about this post, but other parts just do not sit well with me. Yes, colorism is real, even within our own. But, we all know this is due to institutionalized racism that we did not create. When I read, "He fell for this girl who, for the longest time, thought she didn’t deserve love because of the dark color of her skin", "Love has NO color: how I found the man who embraced my dark skin, it triggered me. When you read these words and see a White man next to a Black woman, it is hard to digest. I'm not sure how many Black people read this blog. It is hard reading this on a blog that probably has more White readers who do not understand colorism. I don't want people to come away thinking that Black women are waiting for a Prince Charming who is White, Black, or "Other" to save them from self-doubt. Or that all dark skin Black women have self-doubt. I do not want people to read this post and be under the impression that Black men do not support and love Black women. Lastly, all Black people are not looking for the world to look beyond their color. See all of me. I want people to see my dark skin. It is a part of my magic. I want people to see my culture. You gonna see me in all my blackness. Others can choke on my blackness if it’s too much for them, see me. Blackness needs to be seen. I'm not invisible. Whether a man loves or accepts me does not matter. My husband loves all of me because I found a reason to love me first. How could he deny me and all my Blackness and self-love?

    • I don't know if this is helpful, but as a white woman, I didn't at all get the impression from this post that black women are waiting for a Prince Charming, or that they have self-doubt, or that black men don't support black women. I read it as one person's experience; how she feels and how people have reacted to her in the past and how that's affected her.

  2. I can only think that when people tear you (and others) down because of your skin color, it must come from a very deep place of jealousy and spite. Because you are absolutely, objectively stunning. Not in spite of your skin, but because of it.

  3. I feel happy for you and your man, and sorry for all the "persons" who couldn't recognize how beautiful you are. I'm glad you found real love, and all the haters can go stew in their own bile.

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