Coretta Bodden-Dunne now feels like black royalty because she knows what it felt like to have been tortured with deep-cutting slurs especially throughout her childhood years.
Her only crime, in the eyes of a predominantly black society, is that she wears a darker shade than many.
“Being classified as the blackest person in the school or community was kinda terrifying because people made fun of me,” she explained.
“Even my nickname ‘Black Puss’; I hated it so much. If there was an argument, the only thing persons would use to curse me was my black skin.”
Bodden-Dunne, now 32 years old, felt a sense of betrayal.
“If the people who used my colour against me were from a different race such as white, I would not have felt as bad, because I have certain expectations,” she said.
“But never in a million years would I, as a child, expect such prejudice from the very people who have my skin tone.”
Bodden-Dunne, in a Black History Month special interview with The Jamaica Beacon, said she managed to stay above the fray because there are always a few uplifting voices amid the loud choruses of verbal abuse.
“Wherever I go, there is always someone saying ‘don’t bleach because I love your skin colour’. I mean, if there are a hundred girls and there is one girl who is black enough, that one who is black enough actually becomes a rare gem. That makes me feel very special.”
The native of Lluidas Vale in St Catherine stated that, as the years rolled by, she developed a thicker skin to endure the prejudices she continues to face both in Jamaica and the United States as a result of her complexion.
“Now that I am older, I appreciate my colour more than when I was a child,” she noted, adding that she has learnt some invaluable lessons about racism and prejudice.
“In every race, there are good people and there are people who are bad,” Bodden-Dunne asserted.
Her Caucasian husband, Ira Dunne, is among the reasons for her assertion.
The two met on a dating site roughly two years ago. They fell in love, exchanged nuptial vows, and seem to be living happy ever after in the United States.
“Being with him now, I stop seeing colour and start seeing the person. I can’t see colour anymore,” Bodden-Dunne reasoned.
“I went through a lot with black guys; they were cheating and all of that. I then told myself I was going to try a different race because it seems I have no luck with my race. I talked to Ira and realized that he is a very nice person.”
Bodden-Dunne said her husband also treats her Jamaican-born teenage daughter, Micheika Walker, as though she is his biological child.
“I can leave Micheika with him for the entire lifetime and don’t worry whether she is going to be hungry, molested, sad, or lonely,” she said.
In the meantime, Ira, who already is a father, said he is looking forward to blessing the marriage with its first child.
“We’ve blended our family with the marriage. Coretta and her daughter moved here [to the United States from Jamaica], and I love the idea of us having our own child and buying a house,” he said.
He further told The Jamaica Beacon that, although his wife is about eight years his junior, she has shown immense maturity. “You wouldn’t even know the age difference is there, because she carries herself very mature,” Ira declared.
He noted that, like their age difference, race is never an issue. “When two people love each other, skin colour means nothing. It is what comes from inside that matters,” he continued.
“Some members of my family were a little resistant [as it relates to my relationship with Coretta], but majority of the entire family loves her. My family accepts her with open arms. I also was raised to care for the person and not worry about their backgrounds, including their race.”
The Dunnes, from all accounts, have bridged the racial gap and are now bent on living the true meaning of the vow they made on their big day – to take each other as their lawfully wedded partner, to have and to hold, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.
– Horace Mills