By Sharee Silerio

Nyakim Gatwech, a South Sudanese model with the nickname “Queen of Dark”, is using her platform to encourage, uplift and inspire black women and girls to love themselves and the skin they’re in.

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Society has long associated the color black and blackness with evil, death and negativity, but Gatwech is having none of it, and is using her platform of over 200,000 followers on Instagram to make it known.

She regularly receives comments about her dark-chocolate-hued complexion, and earlier this year, her Uber driver asked her a disrespectful question about her skin. Gatwech responded with power, grace and pride.

SOUTH SUDAN🇸🇸🇸🇸 A country with people so dark you won't believe your eyes.. skin so rich and teeth so bright. Gosh how I love my country my people and everything that come with it.. I was ask my uber driver the other day he said, don't take this offensive but if you were given 10 thousand dollars 💵 would you bleach your skin for that amount? I couldn't even respond I started laughing so hard. Than he said so that a no and I was like hell to the f*king yeah that a no, why on earth would I ever bleach this beautiful melanin God bless with me. Than he said so you look at it as a blessing? I just 🤦♂️ you won't believe the kind of questions I get and the kind of looks I get for having this skin. On that note #melaninmonday🍫🍫 ||different melanin|| 📸 @piokky 👗 @isaacwest Models: @moliesha95 @odur @chudes0212 @queenkim_nyakim
A post shared by Nyakim Gatwech (@queenkim_nyakim) on


Since then, Gatwech has been regularly posting breathtaking photos of herself, including moving poems, words of advice and affirmations that shine a light on the beauty of black skin.

MELANIN MONDAY🍫🍫👸🏿👸🏿🖤 Dear my moonshine dark skin, sun kissed complexion, burn skin or whatever they might call you, You are beyond beautiful and the love I have for is unconditional because you are me. you represent me and I represent you and let show the world how beautiful and intelligent we are apart from just being dark skin, because we are more than what this Society think of our dark skin let stand up for those who can't. Let's speak up those who can't. And stay beautiful while doing it❤️❤️🖤🖤 📸 @piokky 👙 @miss__aude @audeswim 💄 @queenkim_nyakim Model @queenkim_nyakim #saynotoskinbleaching☝😖 #slefloveisthebestlove #melaninpoppin🍫❤️✨ #nubianqueen👌🏿👸🏿 #queenofdark🍫🖤👸🏿 #melaningoddess👑🍫 #southsudanesebeauty🇸🇸🇸🇸😍😍🙌🏿 #blackgirlmagic💫✨ #nuerbeauty😍😍🙌🏿🙌🏿 #confideniskey❤️ #africanqueen👸🏿 #longlegadontcare❤️
A post shared by Nyakim Gatwech (@queenkim_nyakim) on




My black is flawless I've never been this proud before My skin never felt so good Was I not used to it? I can't remember when I loved this shade so much My color is dark and lovely. It sings with a rhythmic melody of beauty. My black is loud It yelled at this pale-faced lady the other day She tried to demean my black And just as quickly as she did My black screamed back. My skin roared with elegance Reminding you it is not afraid anymore My black is loved I rubbed it down tenderly today Making sure to touch every inch. Ever so gently it glistened and radiated My black shimmers and still catches attention. It's been kissed and hugged Yet still selfishly wants more My black isn't always easy But I am my black and my black is me. By Jennifer Asiedu 📸 @sethnocentric 💄 @queenkim_nyakim #queenofdark🍫🖤👸🏿 #southsudanesebeauty🇸🇸🇸🇸😍😍🙌🏿 #nubianqueen👸🏿 #melaningoddess👑🍫 #chocolate🍫 #melaninpoppin🍫❤️✨ #darkchocolate #confideniskey❤️ #slelove
A post shared by Nyakim Gatwech (@queenkim_nyakim) on




I was asked the other day "how do I feel about being nick name queen of the dark?" My answer was I actually like the name there is nothing wrong with darkness and be call queen is just Cherry on the top. Black is not a color of sadness or death or evil its just the way it has been portray for so many years. So I am the queen of the dark who bring light and love to those around me❤️😍🙏🏿 Project: ||.RARE.|| : : ||.Creative Director, Styled & Photographed By.|| Fashion Designer || @isaacwest : : : ||.Model.|| @queenkim_nyakim || #wcw😍😍😍 #queenofdark🍫🖤👸🏿 #chocolate🍫 #southsudanesebeauty🇸🇸🇸🇸😍😍🙌🏿 #melaninpoppin🍫❤️✨ #melaningoddess👑🍫 #nubianqueen👸🏿 #africanqueen👸🏿 #nuergirlbeauty💁🏿💁🏿 #saynotoskinbleaching☝😖 #myblackisbeautiful💋 #blackgirlmagic💫✨
A post shared by Nyakim Gatwech (@queenkim_nyakim) on


If you peruse her comments, you’ll find many that admire her skin tone, saying that they wish they had it. They say that, but to live and walk in her shoes is to constantly rise above oppression against who she was born to be.

Most people aren’t ready for such a reality. Beauty on this level requires strength, self-reliance and unwavering joy.

In a nation and world that praises light as “beautiful”, “right”, “good” and “better”, it’s important to see women who look like us encourage self-love regardless of what other people think, say or believe.

Women all over the world, of various ethnicities, use skin creams and solutions to lighten their skin.

It’s time that we stop waiting for the world to view us as beautiful, because that day may never come. We must recognize the beauty that we are, that we were created to be.

We define beauty. We define ourselves. We are the gift that black is.

Have you had a difficult time loving your melanin skin? What do you think about Nyakim Gatwech’s posts? How can black women love themselves in a world that tells them that they should hate who they are?
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Sharee Silerio is a St. Louis-based freelance writer, Film and TV writer-producer, and blogger. When she isn’t creating content for The Root or The St. Louis American, she enjoys watching drama/sci-fi/comedy movies and TV shows, writing faith and self-love posts for SincerelySharee.com, relaxing with a cup of chai tea, crafting chic DIY event décor, and traveling. Review her freelance portfolio at ShareeSilerio.com then connect with her on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

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