DEAR BLACK GIRLS,
There are probably those of you who grew up feeling different. You may have been a minority. You probably thought at one point or another—why don’t I look like everyone else? You may have not felt enough. I hope in sharing some of my experiences, I can persuade you otherwise.
Growing up, part of me always felt like an outsider. I went to a primary school where I was a minority. People didn’t understand my culture, or the way my hair was twisted into braids. My classmates didn’t understand how I could have short (natural) hair one day, and a braid that trailed down to my hips the next. They couldn’t understand why, after jumping into a pool my once slicked back bun would expand into a cascade of curls. They couldn’t grasp my frustration at people asking if they could ‘touch my hair’.
I didn’t understand why I looked so different either. Why wasn’t my skin fair? Why didn’t my hair swish just as sudden as I moved? Why were my lips so plump? I so desperately wanted to straighten my hair for the school disco. My mum had to tell me that mine wouldn’t look like theirs. I’d be upset and ask why. I was just odd—or so I thought.
Dear Black Girls, you may often feel intimidated as a minority. Jobs may say your coloured twists aren’t ‘acceptable’. You may feel the need to change yourself, alter your appearance in order to fit in. This, however, is wrong.
Once timid in my childhood, afraid to stand out or look different, I now rock my blonde braids without a care in the world. With time I came into my own. My parents tried to instill in me the beauty of being black from a young age, but it took me a long time to accept it. Now, however, I feel confident in who I am and in who my ancestors fought for me to be. Acceptance comes from within. Once you accept yourself it will be impossible for other people not to accept you too. They can try to break you or make you feel isolated but as long as you are secure in yourself—you cannot be broken.
Walking around campus, I see people that look like me, I see people from all different cultures and I always admire how amazing that feels. Kent is a melting pot of people from all walks of life and I couldn’t feel more comfortable – a feeling I didn’t always have growing up.
Dear Black Girls, this Black History Month I urge you to go all out. Our university has made this month a celebration where we can all be proud of our culture. Go to all the events. Express yourself. Experiment with your afro, braids, twists or Brazilian wig—whether its pink, blue, or green, be confident. Wear your Gele or any traditional clothing. Wave your flag high, represent where you come from. Be proud of who you are and where you’re from.
That young girl, who once wanted to be like the majority, now wants nothing more than to be herself and stand out.
DEAR BLACK GIRLS, BE BLACK AND PROUD, BECAUSE YOU ARE ENOUGH.