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Psychologist Dr. Robin Smith says Najee's negative self-image wasn't caused by teasing and name-calling…his mother's self-hatred is actually the root of the problem.

Without realizing it, Tangela allowed the wounds she suffered as a child affect the way she raised her son, Dr. Robin says. Instead, Tangela should have asked God to heal her of her own self-hatred instead of praying for a light-skinned child.

"You love your son. That I know. And he loves you, and I see that," Dr. Robin says. "But his biggest wounder, and lover, has been you. His biggest wounder has been you, because you prayed before he was even outside of your womb, 'God, change him.'"

Dr. Robin cites the fact that when Tangela discusses her son's beauty, she mentions his teeth…not his skin tone. "What you didn't talk about is the beauty of that brown skin," she says. "And I wouldn't expect yet that you could do it because you don't know yourself, in this moment, that you're beautiful."

Although Tangela says her family never made her feel self-conscious about her dark skin, Dr. Robin says someone close to her must have caused the wounds that she carried into adulthood. "Only somebody who's close to you can cause that kind of injury," Oprah says.

Before Tangela can help her son, Dr. Robin says she has to help herself. "The work is to identify where your self-hatred really begins," she says. "You want to communicate something to him? You've got to communicate it to you. You want to educate him about his beauty? You've got to educate yourself."
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FROM: Children Ashamed of the Way They Look
Published on January 01, 2006

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