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During a moment of heart-wrenching vulnerability in front of her peers, a 13-year-old named Janiyah expressed how difficult it is to accept her features as a dark-skinned Black girl.

“I was always the black ugly girl,” Janiyah said to her female classmates at Southwest Baltimore Charter School. “Just because I’m dark-skinned I’m not pretty? I’m not. I always thought I wasn’t because that’s what people told me.”

“Who told you that?” one of the students asks.

Valenica Clay, the students teacher, urges the girls to uplift Janiyah with compliments as they sit in a circle surrounding her.

“Let’s do 10 seconds of compliments to her. Go. Go in!,” Clay says.

With no effort the girls start pouring compliments into the broken girl. “You have a pretty smile, you have a good personality,” one student says.

Overwhelmed, Janiyah breaks down into tears while her classmates comfort her with hugs.

“I love your voice, I love your brilliance. I love your creativity, I love when you sing. I love how caring you are. I love that bob, stay on fleek!” Clay chimes in.

Clay posted the video to Instagram where it was later shared to Facebook. To date the post has over 100,000 shares.

“This is the result of slavery, institutional racism, systematic oppression, media bias, and a dominant narrative that our beauty is in fact, not beauty at all, unless it measures up to neo-exotic or Eurocentric standards,” Clay wrote in her caption on Instagram.

Clay, who spoke with ABC News, also spearheads a non-profit organization called The Flourishing Blossoms where she mentors young girls.

She told the outlet that Janiyah continues to feel uplifted as people all over the world shower her with affirmations.



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Young Girl Reaffirmed By Classmates After Saying She Feels Like “The Black Ugly Girl”  was originally published on