Flexin’ in her Complexion: Bullied girl a messenger of hope
Flexin’ in her Complexion: Bullied girl a messenger of hope In this Dec. 19, 2018 photo, social media personality Kheris Rogers poses for a portrait in Los Angeles. Rogers launched her own fashion line with T-shirts sporting, "Flexin' in My Complexion," along with backpacks reading "The Miseducation of Melanin" and other apparel and accessories. (Rebecca Cabage/Invision/AP)
Flexin’ in her Complexion: Bullied girl a messenger of hope
Lexile: 1030L

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Kheris Rogers was in the first grade in a predominantly white private school. It was in Los Angeles. She felt the bite of racism among her peers when she was being bullied because of her dark skin. She tearfully kept it to herself. Eventually, she turned to her older sister, Taylor Pollard. She switched to a more diverse school, there, colorism among fellow African-American students surprised and confused her.

Her young sister's self-esteem was bruised. Then Taylor inadvertently launched Kheris to social media fame in 2017 when she posted a photo of the girl on Twitter. She was dressed up for a fashion show. She used their beloved grandmother's down-home words for a hashtag: "Flexininhercomplexion."

Soon, Kheris had her own Twitter and Instagram accounts (@KherisPoppin) and was posting photo shoots of herself that she and Taylor created. Her own fashion line followed, with T-shirts sporting her tagline, "Flexin' in My Complexion." Then came backpacks reading "The Miseducation of Melanin" and other apparel and accessories.

Lupita Nyong'o posted a photo of herself wearing a black version of the shirt with bright yellow letters in support of Kheris. Whoopi Goldberg sported one while attending the Rodarte show at New York Fashion Week in September. Alicia Keys lauded her black girl magic.

While the words of her tormenters no longer sting, they haven't been forgotten. The behavior wasn't restricted to children, either.

"The kids would always call me names," Kheris, now 12, told The Associated Press in an interview. "They would always tease me for my dark-skin complexion. They used to call me dead roach and say I've been in the oven too long. When I really knew I was being bullied because of my color was when my teacher handed me a black crayon instead of a brown crayon to draw our portraits for parent conferences."

Taylor, who at 24 is now Kheris' manager, suspected something was amiss and Kheris finally told her family.

"I had no friends. I was only invited to one of the birthday parties that they had. Everybody else was invited and I wasn't," Kheris recalled.

Now in middle school, things are more than just a little looking up.

Kheris was chosen as one of Teen Vogue's "21 Under 21" inspiring girls and femmes of 2018 and attended the magazine's teen summit. She was picked by LeBron James as one of 16 people to help mark his 16th shoe release with Nike, modeling in ads for the company. She's been featured in a spread in Essence magazine and walked the runway of "America's Next Top Model" after Tyra Banks learned of her plight.

She has shown her own line in Harlem during New York Fashion Week, and she hasn't hit the eighth grade yet.

Julee Wilson, fashion and beauty director for Essence magazine, called support for Kheris "both an honor and responsibility."

She added: "To stand in the face of society's narrow beauty standards isn't an easy task, and she's doing it with an incredible amount of grace. We can't wait to see how Kheris pushes the 'Flexin' in My Complexion movement forward in the future. There's no doubt in our minds that she'll continue to remind the world that Black is incredibly beautiful."

Mom Erika Pollard, a social worker, said Kheris travels the country speaking at conferences about empowerment.

"As a parent, of course, you know, it was heartbreaking, but it made us stronger," she said of the rough years. "It pulled us together as a family because it's something that we had to conquer together. Now she's making a positive difference within her community, which I'm so proud of at such a young age."

Kheris said she now considers her life a mission.

"Flexin' in My Complexion isn't just about me," she said. "It's about every brown, dark, freckled, fair-skinned person who wants to tell the world, 'I am more than just the color of skin.'"

She hopes to spread her message across the world.

"I want to be a spokesperson for racism and colorism (issues)," she said.

Kheris now has lots of friends as a seventh-grader and knows exactly how to handle bullies: "Back off because I'm flexin' in my complexion and it doesn't matter what you think about me. It matters what I think about myself."

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/tween78/flexin-her-complexion-bullied-girl-messenger-hope/

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If you created a slogan for an anti-bullying message, what would it be and why?
Write your answers in the comments section below

  • MinaA-bad
    10/04/2019 - 11:15 a.m.

    “If you have a problem to how I look, just keep it to yourself because at the end of the day I’m going to feel good either way you say any thing about me I won’t care what negativity you bring out of your mouth’, i would say this to a bully if they were talking bad about me or anyone else because everyone has there own look and everyone’s not perfect, there perfect in there own way.

  • JaD-bad
    10/04/2019 - 11:16 a.m.

    The slogan i will make is if you don’t like me don’t talk to me or get near me. Bullies are loser they will never win ands they bully caused they’re jealous . Hater BYE . If you get bully ignore it they just a loser and walk away and don’t carve what they said .

  • JaVyonW-bad
    10/04/2019 - 11:17 a.m.

    If I had a slogan for anti- bullying it would be, Bullying is mean and should not be seen... I created this slogan because bullying is inappropriate, annoying, and outrageous.

  • CamillaS-bad
    10/04/2019 - 11:19 a.m.

    If i created a slogan for anti-bullying message it would be , Rumors are carried by haters, spread by fools, & accepted by idiots. I selected this slogan beacause there is no need for aggressive behavior that makes others feel bad.Bullying has reached outside the normal school aged kids. Work place bullies now exist nationwide. The greed to display power can get out of hand. Many times it even spills online to social media networks.It’s an unwanted act that can lead to serious and long lasting issues for the victims.

  • TzarS-bad
    10/04/2019 - 11:20 a.m.

    My slogan would be. “Bully for fame that’s really lame!” This a good slogan that states how kids bully for popularity and that’s bad and is really lame.

  • DyquanD-bad
    10/04/2019 - 11:21 a.m.

    My slogan for anti-bullying message is “A wise man once said if you push others to crying push yourself to do better” and that’s why because if you would just put your determination from bullying into hard work would be better for you to develop yourself into a better person

  • JaShaunaM-bad1
    10/04/2019 - 11:22 a.m.

    Don’t be a bully be a friend, support report defend.
    This would be my slogan because it make sense and i like what is says

  • NyoN-bad
    10/04/2019 - 11:22 a.m.

    If i created a slogan for an anti-bullying message it would be “stop before i put my fist across ur face” because you always have to fight for yourself my slogan is only for when the bully starts putting hands on u or hurting you physically.

  • MaungH-bad
    10/04/2019 - 11:24 a.m.

    If I created a slogan it would “ In the clockwork Universe always speak up time will never reverse”
    - Maung Hla
    This is a really good slogan because if you don’t speak up now it will haunt the rest of your life.

  • EEW-bad
    10/04/2019 - 11:24 a.m.

    My slogan for a bully is “Back off bullies,Don’t be a loser!”

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