The Mela.nin Éclat is a series of images, sounds, perspectives, and demonstrations (performances included) that represent the eclecticism of black people, and other communities of color.
wesley t. jones, 22 / detroit, mi
How do you feel your skin tone/complexion has affected your experience as a human being?
Growing up, there were times during the times of my elementary school years (few times in middle school and high school) when I wished that my skin complexion wasn't as dark as it was. I'd say it was around the first or second grade when I became aware of my skin color in contrast to others, particularly people of lighter color because they were seen as more attractive, "cute", or "beautiful". My first time remembering experiencing this form of discrimination was when my bestfriend at the time, who was mixed, was "chosen" (over me) by a girl that I had really liked simply because he was lighter skinned. This is also the first time I remember wishing that I wasn't dark. It was even worse in the summer months, as I spent a lot of time outside my skin was tanned by the sun and even more dark--I remember seeing myself in pictures mentally noting how dark I looked and how much I wished it wasn't so.
As I got older, and more mature and confident in my looks, I came to accept not only the color of my skin but it's tone in comparison to my black brothers and sisters who are lighter than me. Grant it, there were even times as a teenager when I'd wished that my skin was lighter just to be seen as a "more attractive" guy of the bunch, but those insecurities started to weigh less and lass as my confidence began to build as I got older and more attractive to others. It took me some time to come to terms with my dark skin and the beauty that it, too, beholds. I would say that media had a lot to do with my build in confidence. Once this whole 'discovery of beauty in the darker black persons skin' movement began (can't really remember when exactly) I started to see more and more dark skinned men and women on tv or in magazines who were glorified because of their skin tone or even being recognized for being dark skinned "and still beautiful", It'd seemed to me that all of a sudden times had changed. All of a sudden you could be a darker skinned black person and still be seen as an attractive being, and to some, even more attractive. Now, I own my black beauty and I am no longer running from the sun in the summer time because I know that at the end of the day my MELANIN is a God given gift that many people lighter than me pay for at their local tanning shops. I see my dark skin tone as a blessing, not a curse. I wear it with pride and I feel beautiful knowing that the universe's biggest star glistens my skin, and that my skin, being dark as it its, protects me from it when it needs to.
How do you feel music and other artistic expressions can act as a tool to spread a message of integrity and wholeheartedness?
I think that music and other artisitc expressions are powerful because they have the ability to force us to self reflect, to gain more knowledge or awarness of something, to see something from another perspective, or to simply FEEL. These are all things that we as humans don't like to do much, and I think Art and all of its forms of expression has the power to challenge us and help us to be better people of the world.
What perspective or scope could a young black artist who is developing in an underprivileged area of America take to thrive and create change within himself and the greater world?
I believe that everyone has something that they were born with, a gift that is within and that was planted in them to grow into the world. You cannot allow our circumstances to detour you from the plan that God has for you or keep you from delivering the message given to you to deliver to the world. You simply have to believe. Believe in what is in you, and trust that that is enough because that of which is in you, was all that you were born with. You can change the world by simply shining your light. Letting your light shine enough for it to shine on someone else. I think changing the world is as simple as shining and sharing your light.
Photos by GOODSTEPH. Taken in San Diego,CA