Black made any insult worse…We had never heard the words “Black is beautiful” and the idea had never occurred to most of us.
There was one girl in our school whose mother mad her wear a clothespin on her nose to make it thin. There were quite a few girls who tried to bleach their skin white with bleaching cream and who got pimples in stead.
And, of course, we went to the beauty parlor and got our hair straightened. I couldn’t wait to go to the beauty parlor and get my hair all fried up. I wanted Shirley Temple curls just like Shirley Temple. I hated the smell of fried hair and having my ears burned, but we were taught that women had to make great sacrifices to be beautiful…
We had been completely brainwashed and we didn’t even know it. We accepted white value systems and white standards of beauty and , at times, we accepted the white man’s view of ourselves. We had never been exposed to any other point of view or any other standard of beauty."
Assata An Autobiography