the angry black woman (revisited): self-reflection & self-care

Life of a Black Girl

I began this blog as a mark for a school assignment. My own lived experiences were an easy topic to write and I always have a lot to say so DOACBW was born. However, it’s evolved into so much more than that for me.

In my first blog post, I said: “to be black and conscious is to be in a constant state of rage.” I feel that quote in my heart, mind and soul because it is tough to know that you’re in a society that has been systemically built against you. I see it in the media, in our laws and sometimes I even see it right in front of my face – combine this with the idea that to be a strong black woman, I am meant to be self-reliant & self-contained; it’s enough to make anyone angry, don’t you think?

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GIF from Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

Writing this blog has been cathartic for me. Being able to speak up and have those conversations that I may have not been able to approach otherwise is invaluable. This is self-care for me. I think that black women, in particular, should focus on this for themselves to avoid the “black superwoman syndrome” that diminishes our ability to be vulnerable, ask for help and seek comfort.

selfcare

Image from Yoga with Allaya.

So here’s a short list I’ve compiled to care for myself:
(because remember, Superman wasn’t strong, he was invincible)

  1. Alone time
    Everyone needs time alone to decompress and self-reflect. My good friend, Trevor, writes a blog about the value of time spent alone so instead of forcing ourselves to be “on” all the time for others, let’s put that energy back where it belongs: for yourself.

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    Image from TheSlumflower.com                                                        (BUY THIS BOOK, IT’S AMAZING)

  2. Dance
    Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE to dance. It is a way for me to express every emotion that I can’t always put into words. Plus, it’s fun!

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    Image of me at Miami Beach.

  3. Get outside
    We are currently in the depths of winter (yuck), but sometimes going outside for even a 5-minute walk is a great way to get out of a funk.

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    Image of me with my Pi Beta Phi wings on Grouse Mountain

  4. Your body is a temple
    My father always tells me that the body is resilient and that it will do what needs to so long as I treat it right. Do I follow this sentiment all the time? No, I definitely ate Wendys AND sushi yesterday. However, I drank a lot of water and got the right amount of sleep I needed to so it’s baby steps in the right direction.

    Take-care-of-your-body.-Its-the-only-place-you-have-to-live.

    Image from SpiritualCleanisng.org

  5. Surround yourself with love
    I am fortunate to have so many people who fill my life with joy, light and constant support. I have NO desire for negative people and the minute I notice that someone is consuming that light, I show them the door. Life is hard sometimes and you don’t need anyone who is going to make it harder, intentionally or not.

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”

– Audre Lorde

The elephant in the room: now that my class is done, what am I going to do with this blog?

Well, the show ain’t over until the fat lady sings so the only thing I know is that no matter if continue these conversations I have with you all in person or online, they will continue.

Speaking of which, check me out on December 13th. DOACBW is collaborating with the Artbox Collective!

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Until then, I’m taking my own advice and taking a little break from blogging. Don’t worry, this is not goodbye. It’s just see you later. 😘

xoxo,

A Conscious Black Woman

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the POC perspective: culture & confusion

Life of a Black Girl

I’m sure you’ve noticed I talk about the POC culture in this blog, how things are different for us based on how you were raised or the experiences we’ve grown up with.

However, another big part of POC culture is confusion. Think about the term “African-American” – It is known as the politically correct for black individuals, but what does that really mean? Very few of us know our African roots.

 

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Image from salt. by Nayyirah Waheed

 

My mother was born in England and my father was born in Jamaica and when they have thought about tracing their ancestry, they know that they will eventually hit a dead end – not because of lack of documentation, but rather extermination as black slaves had to take on their slave masters’ name thus erasing their history.

 

african american

Image from Instagram.

 

These are only some sentiments of confusion in black culture specifically. It becomes even more complicated from a bi-racial perspective. This is why I wanted to give the talking stick to someone who also knows the struggles of ethnic ambiguity so I asked Joanna also known as Professional Sad Girl to speak to her experience as a mixed race POC:

Growing up, I started to realize that there was no one who really looked like me. In fact, my parents bought me two dolls when I was born, one white and one brown, because they couldn’t find any that actually looked like me. I didn’t even look particularly like my parents, and my mom was occasionally asked where I was adopted from when we were in public. I spent the majority of my childhood trying to find characters in books and television that I felt like I could relate to in image, with no real success.

 

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Image from Baby & Doll.

 

Racial ambiguity can be pretty lonely. Looking like no one else makes it hard for me to find communities of belonging. Part of this relates to my experience as the child of immigrants: I can’t fully identify with Canadian culture, but I also can’t truly relate to their home culture. Racial and ethnic groups are a great way for POCS to connect with a group of others with similar life experiences, but as a racially ambiguous person I’ve never felt like I could belong within one, or that I would be co-opting a space or identity that’s not really my own.

On one hand, I recognize that I have the unique privilege of evading stereotypes and perceptions associated with specific racial and ethnic groups; sometimes my racial ambiguity and the confusion that surrounds it gives me the opportunity to define myself based on my own personality and values. But that’s only sometimes. A much more common reality I’ve faced is that people treat my ethnic ambiguity like the Mirror of Erised from Harry Potter; basically, they take the unidentifiable nature of my race and project whatever they want me to be.

 

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Image from Pottermore.com

 

For example:
• White friends throughout my life have considered me to be a “tan white girl”
• People of Latinx and Hispanic people have spoken to me in Spanish and been annoyed when I explained that I actually was not Latinx/Hispanic/Spanish
• I’ve actually had a man try to convince me that I was lying when I told him that I was not from the Middle East

When I was younger, I really searched for tangible ways to feel a sense of belonging and define myself. Since I attended a dominantly white elementary school, that translated into appearing as “white” and behaving as “white” as possible. The past five years of my life has been a race to reclaim my actual culture, my ethnic ambiguity, and present myself on my own terms while refusing to passively let others impose their ideas upon. I’m still learning and still figuring it out, but it’s a step.

 

xoxo,

A Conscious Black Woman

&

A Professional Sad Girl

how to speak up: advocacy or aggression?

In The News

I saw a post on Instagram this week from Splendid Rain Co. – a company that produces pro-black clothing with powerful and provocative messages. The owner runs the page and she is also an activist.

Olatiwa-Karade

Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

I personally love her brand, but Etsy recently removed her shop from their shops (article here) and then reinstated it causing the young designer to aggravation and frustration. She has always been vocal about her feelings, but this one really made she made me think. She said that she’s been getting a lot of backlash because people say that her “sassy black woman” attitude makes it “easy for racists” to use against her in arguments and that she is “smarter than saying f*** you” to certain individuals who offend her. 

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Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

This hit home for me because I have trained myself to never raise my voice or appear angry in arguments about race. I thought that because I don’t want others to think that my emotions overrule my logic, but now I think that a large part doesn’t want people to see my blackness in these conversations.

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Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

My friend Tomachi and I talk about this a lot. The idea that in the fight for black rights, we must be in the front lines without ammo – engaging in any uncomfortable conversation and remaining tight-lipped in the face of adversity. Tomachi thinks this is absolute garbage and that black woman have especially carried this burden for too long. I agree this is twisted and yet, it is basically the purpose of my blog. 🙃

marginalized peeps

Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

This has opened my eyes and is something that I want to work on for myself. If I want to tell someone go kick rocks and exit a conversation, I am entitled to especially as an act of self-care. This doesn’t diminish my intelligence, ability to connect with others or my advocacy in the black community.

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Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

Although, I am not doing all the work! Allies and hopefully soon-to-be allies, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. While I want to have these conversations with you, understand that it is draining and upsetting for all minority individuals to explain to you the different ways that society has let us down.

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Image from Splendid Rain Co’s Instagram.

xoxo,

A Conscious Black Woman

“I’ll never let y’all try to tell me I’m “better than” my culture or the ties I have to it. This goes for anyone … I’m here fighting for loud black girls, ghetto black girls, black women who are sex workers, trans black people, lgbtq+ black people, and everyone who’s been left off the spectrum of deserving human decency because of who they are or what they choose to do. Don’t like it? Unfollow.”

– Olatiwa Karade, creator of Splendid Rain Co.

the concrete ceiling: being a POC and getting promoted

Life of a Black Girl

Hey everyone!

As the weather gets colder and my internship period quickly approaches, I’ve been wondering about my future in my potential career in public relations. As a woman of colour, it’s quite the scary thought – will I peak at some point because of my gender AND race rather than because of my merit?

This is why I wanted to discuss the glass ceiling for women of colour this week and I’ve even made a handy-dandy FAQ so we can cover all of our bases for this complex topic!

 

How to Get This Bread When The World Only Wants To Give You a Slice

What is a glass ceiling?

The glass ceiling is a metaphor used to represent an invisible barrier that keeps minority groups from rising beyond a certain level in a hierarchy. The term was coined by feminists when talking about women’s professional and economic inequality ie. the wage gap.

 

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Image from Washington Technology.

 

 

Isn’t the wage gap a myth?

Now, if you’re a self-proclaimed “egalitarian” who doesn’t believe in the wage gap and says things like this:

 

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Image from Know Your Meme.

 

You probably should just stop reading now.

If you’re simply unaware of the wage gap, I’ll explain to you.

The wage gap is the difference in earnings between women and men in the workplace.

It is the indicator of women’s economic inequality and varies by country. For example, Canadian women workers earned an average of 69 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2016.

 

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Image from Supply & Chain Executive.

 

 

But feminism has progressed so much! Are you sure the wage gap still exists?

 

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Image from Twitter.

 

…yes.

 

So then, what’s the concrete ceiling?

It is undeniable that the glass ceiling is even lower for women of colour (other than Asian women). Based on your race as a woman, you get paid even less.

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Image from California Women’s Law Center.

 

So when we talk about the concrete ceiling, it refers to the barriers women of colour face being even more difficult to penetrate and the inability to “see through it to glimpse the corner office” as stated by Catalyst President Sheila Wellington.

 

So what does this mean for me if I’m a woman of colour about to enter the workplace?

I actually don’t know. I want to believe that the world is fair and just, but that’s always not true.

I think the most important thing is to find a company that aligns with your values. I was lucky enough to land an internship at a PR company where I felt comfortable voicing my opinions even as early as in the interviewing stages. I’m so excited to develop myself as a professional there and see where my career path takes me.

 

Whatever, minorities get hired and promoted because of affirmative action so I probably won’t even get a job!

 

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Image from Temple News.

 

I’ll just leave that right there for you.

 

xoxo,

A Conscious Black Woman

pwi: black folks, white school

Life of a Black Girl

Last week was amazing! So many of you opened to me about interracial dating on my Instagram and I had the chance to read a lot of your opinions on the matter. This meant so much to me!

 

Due to this, I wanted to open up the discussion once again and try something new. I wanted to have a “his / hers comparison” so I asked my friend, Mark, to share his experience with me.

 

Funny enough, Mark and I are both from Brampton, Ontario; even though, we never crossed paths before. Our backgrounds are a bit different, but what we have in common is that we both go to Western University which means that we both go to a PWI – a Predominantly White Institution. 

Now a lot of you might think that being a black student at a PWI is like this all of the time:

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Image from Buzzfeed

 

But don’t worry, it’s only like that some of the time! That’s why Mark and I will recount our experiences and you can see a side-by-side view of what it was like for us at a PWI.

 

B: Coming to Western University, I was super excited as it was the only university that I wanted to go to (other than University of British Columbia, but my parents wouldn’t let me go that far). My biggest fear was not the lack of diversity, but the party image. I was pretty sheltered and came from private schools and a performing arts school so I was very used to being the only or one of the few black kids in my class. This placed me in the “oreo” category – black on the outside, white on the inside.

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Image from Buzzfeed

 

M: The time between the day I received my acceptance into Western University and the day I was set to move into residence was filled with anxiety. Coming from the city of Brampton, where cultural and ethnic diversity was the norm, I feared that I would not be accepted into the Western community. How would an awkward and goofy black kid from the GTA fit in with the likes of private school kids? I had never even heard of Canada Goose until I moved to London!

blackkidinclass

Image from KitaAdams.

 

B: Once I got to UWO, I quickly got over my “party fear” and my friends in my residence became my family. These people became and continue to be my supports throughout my discovery of myself. Being a black female in a sorority and other predominantly white groups sometimes left me feeling a bit lost at times, but I have great friends who embrace and remind who I am.

 

M: But what I expected was much different than what I would experience. My years at this university have been the greatest and worst moments of my life. From meeting people who I consider my family to recognizing the effects of mental health, my time there was nothing but ordinary. But throughout that time, I was always me. I never once had to change to ‘fit in,’ and I never had to check someone for their ignorance.

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Image from Mark’s Facebook.

 

Mark’s and my experiences cannot speak for all POCs in PWIs. But I want Mark to close this one as his words are key advice to anyone to thinking about going to / are in a PWI.

 

M: I recognized who I was, who I want to surround myself with, and what I wanted to get out of this experience. In doing so, I refused to let anyone ruin that for me. I was unapologetically me and I have become a better person because of it. I think the message that I am trying to send here is one of self-love and self-acceptance. It is only once you start losing sights of who you are that you become threatened by change and new experiences. Stay true to yourself and, trust me when I say that, you will enjoy any environment that you are in.

 

xoxo,

A Conscious Black Woman

ebony & ivory: my take on interracial​ dating

Life of a Black Girl

Hormones are in the air because it’s the most wonderful time of the year! As you may know, it’s cuffing season so I thought this would be a perfect time to bring up another personal topic for me: interracial dating!

As a black woman, especially one in a predominantly white community, it is not a surprise to me that all but one of my relationships (official and less official) have been with men outside of my race. When we look at the history of interracial dating/marriage, it’s an awesome thing to hear that it actually has never been illegal in Canada (correction: this was not so for Indigenous Peoples who had to relinquish their  Indian status in order to marry outside of their race!!) whereas interracial marriage was legalized in the United States only 51 years ago (shoutout Loving v. Virginia!).

Image from FreedomToMarry.com

When I look at my own experience with interracial dating, I have broken it up into 2 subjects:

Am I Being Fetishized or Made Invisible?
a) as we touched on in my colourism post, black women are considered to be the least attractive to males which creates an inherent insecurity. On one side, there are non-black men who say that they’re “exclusively” interested in black women. To me, this is a big ol’ red flag rather than a preference of endearment. Fetishization is a serious problem for POCs so if a guy says he’s “down for the swirl” or anything that indicates his interest in your race rather than you as a person, *clink clink* it’s time to get out (or at least watch the movie).

Image from Mic.com
(if you’d like this hear this entire slam poem)

b) In my past relationship with my ex, I was not only his first “real” girlfriend but I am also a different race from him. So while there was no fear of fetishization, I remember when I first asking if he told his parents that I was black and he said that he didn’t and asked why it would matter. This is where the mixed feelings come in – I don’t want my race to be my identifier, but it is also such an undeniable part of my identity. Of course, he meant no harm by this and had no intentions to keep my race a secret; however, one’s ethnicity changes the way in which society views them and that extends into an interracial relationship and I don’t think he ever got a chance to understand that.


Image from Twitter.com

Can I Be Pro-Black and Date Outside of My Race? 
This is the time old question. Something that’s still debated to this day and that my own family members have brought up when I told them about my white (then) boyfriend. To some people, when you date outside of your race, it means that you’re going against your own race. I don’t believe this is true. There are certain individuals who self-hate and exclusively date outside of their race due to an internalized misunderstanding/resentment of their community as a whole. That is not my case for me. I dated my ex because he made me smile with his vegan treats, awful dancing and amazing ability at a game I made up called Meow Meow, not because he is white. So the verdict is you can be pro-black and date outside of your race. What you can’t do is say you’re pro-Black and date who is not pro-black themselves.

So what my relationships have taught me is that love is love. It comes in all colours, shapes and sizes. Just make sure you always love yourself first 😘

xoxo,

A Conscious Black Woman

guest blog: T.H.U.G.

In the Media

This week, I’ve got a special treat for y’all: a guest blogger!

The lovely Savannah aka The Student Foodie is going to give her two cents on the new movie, The Hate U Give!

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Image from TheStudentFoodie.ca

Spoiler alert: Savannah is not black, but I wanted to hear her perspective on a highly racial film so she and I can compare and contrast our thoughts after watching it.

I invite you to check out Savannah’s blog: https://thestudentfoodie.ca
and without further adieu, here’s her take on T.H.U.G.!

Related image
Image from Foxmovies.com

 

 

Privilege test!

  1. When you were younger, did your parents give you:
    a) The Sex Talk
    b) The Traffic Stop Talk

 

  1. During a traffic stop you:
    a) Snapchat a picture of your speeding ticket to send to your friends with the caption “f*ck the police!”
    b) Fear for your life and use your phone to record evidence

 

  1. Have you seen someone die?
    a) No, the only death I’ve seen is on the big screen
    b) Yes, I’ve watched close friends get killed

 

If you answered A for all of the above, you are PRIVILEGED!

If you answered B, then your experiences resemble those of Starr Carter and the larger population of African-Americans represented in The Hate U Give (hyperlink to movie review: https://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/the-hate-u-give-review-1202933118/).

 

Based on Angie Thomas’ YA novel and adapted for film by George Tillman Jr., The Hate U Give follows Starr, a young black girl who witnesses her friend Khalil, an unarmed black man, get shot and killed by a white police officer during a traffic stop. In other words, a typical American news headline.

 

Though, I was blown away by the film (my friends and I ugly cried the whole time), I was not surprised. If the police brutality, anti-black racism and overall injustice were shocking to you, then you are probably part of the problem, or at least complicit. In just two hours, Tillman Jr. paints a vivid picture of America’s racial division, touching on everything from the prison industrial complex to intra-community violence.

 

Here are a few key lessons from the film:


Code Switching is a “survival technique”

Like many POC, Starr adopts two different personas to adhere to her black and white worlds. When she is at home in her predominantly black neighbourhood, she acts one way and when she is at her predominantly white school, she adjusts herself to behave another. She exists in a state of suspension where she is often too white in her black community, but too black in her white school.

 

Racism isn’t always overt

As Starr said, racism isn’t confined to using the N word, or spraying black people with hoses.

More often than not, racism is internalized and expressed in more subtle ways like “jokingly” telling your black friend to eat fried chicken, or asking your Hispanic friend how they crossed the border (I’ve been asked this too many times to count).

Basically, don’t be this girl:

Image result for the hate u give hailey
Image from Daily Motion Video.

 

Black bodies are inherently political

Black bodies do not have the luxury of remaining apolitical. Black bodies are trained to be defensive from a young age. In the powerful opening scene, Starr and her brother, Seven are given the “traffic stop talk,” or how to not get killed in an encounter with the police. Most kids get the sex talk. At Khalil’s funeral, April points out that even when black people are unarmed, they are still armed because their blackness is perceived as a weapon. The colour blind ideology (“I don’t see colour”), that many well-intentioned white people possess also serves to further negate the real oppression POC have and continue to face. Starr said it best, “If you don’t see my blackness then you don’t see me.”

 

Final Thoughts

“I try to write fiction that’s rooted in reality, and the reality is even scarier than anything that I could write.” -Angie Thomas, author The Hate U Give

 

The film depicts enough brutality and injustice to provoke critical thought, but remains easily digestible to appeal to a wide range of viewers. While it cannot encompass the full extent of the oppression that exists in North America, the film offers insight into a perspective that has been historically and routinely silenced, but not for long.

costumes & cultural appropriation: the best way to ruin my favourite holiday

Life of a Black Girl

Here’s something you all should know about me: I LOVE Halloween.

I’ve always loved dressing up and although my costumes are usually not particularly creative, I still have so much fun wearing them.

Here are some examples:

The Basic Devil Costume

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, indoor
Image of me in my third year taken from my Facebook album.

The Showgirl/Magician/Ringmaster (whatever your best guess is) Costume

Image may contain: 2 people
Image of me and my roommates in my second year taken from my Facebook album.

The Ambiguous Animal Costume
(there was a wolf on my shirt so I was a wolf)

Image may contain: 2 people
Image of Alina and I in our first year (oh god) taken from my Facebook album.

You’ll notice that all of these costumes have something in common… Yes, they all lack originality, but there’s something bigger – they all don’t imitate a culture or a cultural character.

Now, I know what you’re thinking and it’s probably illustrated by one of these cute little cartoons:

Image taken from #MuslimGirl.

Well, my misinformed friend, that is simply not true. What these cartoons and potentially you are participating in is cultural appropriation which is the adoption of something from a culture that is not your own.

Woah woah woah. Hold on, I know you’re DYING to ask me why this concept does not apply to “white culture.” To this, I will promptly reply that it is specifically used in the context of minority culture because of the existing power imbalances that are a result of colonialism and oppression. Also with a big, fat


Image taken from @cardib’s Instagram.

Now that we understand the rules, let’s have some fun and play a quick game of

APPROPRIATION OR APPRECIATION!

Alright readers, first off we have an old fan favourite: Paris Hilton!!!!!!

Image taken from Mic.com.

Did she appropriate or appreciate?

The answer is: APPROPRIATE.

Native American/Indigenous Peoples have experienced mass cultural genocide (amongst many other things) so the last thing they need is a rich heiress in a war bonnet to remind them of such tragedies.

Next up is not one of my personal favourites, but you may “fancy” her: Iggy Azalea!

Image result for iggy azalea cruella
Image taken from the Daily Mail.

Did she appropriate or appreciate?

The answer is: APPRECIATE.

In this case, no one has the monopoly on what’s black, white or has spots all over (except maybe that adorable Dalmatian). This costume, not only looks great but, also stays away from creating any stereotypes or taking away credit from other cultures.

Final round and this one is an all or nothing. Our game closer: Heidi Klum!

Heidi Klum Source: Getty Images
Image taken from Mic.com.

Did she appropriate or appreciate?

The answer is: APPROPRIATE (I mean like come on!!!!!)

I’m really not entertaining this one with an explanation.

This closes our game of Appropriation or Appreciation!

 

Despite this cheeky play, please understand that cultural appropriation is not a game. It further perpetuates stereotypes, diminishes recognition of others cultures and continues the harmful effects of oppression.

So have fun this Halloween, but think about your costumes and don’t be a jackass-o’-lantern. 🎃

colourism in the community: when skinship ain’t kinship

Life of a Black Girl

Today, I saw this:

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Twitter post from @undoalaska.

As a darkskin woman of colour, not only does this hurt, but it brings up a subject that affects many POCs: colourism.

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Image from The Power of Melanin blog.

We all know about racism on a grand scale, but colourism is different as it ranks worth within our own minority groups. As most forms of discrimination, the concept connects to the slavery structure of black people with lighter skin tones working in the house while dark-skinned black folks were forced to work in the fields. This mentality of “lightskin vs darkskin” has stuck around for ages and not only in the perception of black people but in our perceptions of ourselves.

Take myself as an example. I have a cousin named Mariah. We were born 8 days apart and we have been best friends ever since.

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Photo of baby Brooke and Mariah from my mother’s photo album.

We’ve grown up together and share many similar personality traits so to me, Mariah and I were the same on so many levels. However, as we grew older, I learned that we were different. Not in who we were, but in how the world perceived us.

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Photo of Mariah and I as cute little beach babes from my mother’s photo album.

It started off as little things such as people saying “no way, you’re related! She doesn’t look anything like you” but then insisting that Mariah was related to our light-skinned family friend instead to the compliments of Mariah’s beautiful curly hair, but never my braids. It hurt most when we were in middle school and it felt like so many boys were interested in Mariah and I wondered why I wasn’t getting that same attention. This made a part of me resent her. I decided to ask one of my other cousins at a family gathering and he said “well, a lot of people just aren’t into dark skin girls. I know I only want to be with a lightskin.” And it crushed me (just to rub some salt to the wound, this has actually been empirically proven in one study now).

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Image of a 2014 OkCupid user data article from the Narialand Forum.

Now, I’ve grown to love myself and my skin tone. So what I leave you all with is to understand preference vs prejudice. I still get the occasional “I’m just not into black girls,” but that doesn’t make me turn against my lightskin sisters in the black community and most importantly, I refuse to let it make me turn against myself.

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Image of Mariah and I, all grown up at prom from my Facebook album.

wigs, weaves & braids oh my! A guide on (how not to touch) a black woman’s hair

Life of a Black Girl

Alright friends, gather around… It’s story time.

I’m out with my friends at a bar. We’re sitting with this dude and his friend who is clearly intoxicated. He compliments me on my hair, says “I love your hair, can I just give it a poof?” Although, it was apparently a rhetorical question because he proceeded to REACH OUT AND FLUFF MY HAIR LIKE I WAS A POMERANIAN PUPPY.

The (very uncomfortable) end.

touch_hair

This is a constant occurrence for many black women. And the worst part is when I stand my ground, I am met with: “Brooke, what’s the big deal? It’s a compliment” or “why are you making this into a race issue?” Well, unfortunately, it is a race issue. Even, when my hair is met with praise, it is also met with bewilderment as if I am an animal with a mane to stroke. This is because black hair has been politicized, stigmatized, criticized and fetishized for decades. Paul Mooney, a comedian, so eloquently explains it as: “if your hair is relaxed, white people are relaxed. If your hair is nappy, they’re not happy.”

…unless they can pet it apparently.

Image result for relaxer hair

The history of beauty is a sad tale for most black girls and movies like Netflix’s Nappily Ever After depict this struggle. European ideals of blondes and brunettes with straight hair flood the media in advertising and pop culture to this day. Because of this, it’s really tough for black girls to embrace their beauty. I used to cry at the thought of anyone outside of my family seeing me with natural hair. I would also cry from the chemical burns that I would get from the hair relaxer. I used to wear wigs and weaves as a disguise of some sort, a way to fit in with my predominantly white friend group. Now, I wear any hairstyles that I want as an empowered choice.

Image result for nappily ever after

We can’t immediately change societal views of beauty, all I can change is how I see myself. So, uplift yourself, your black friends and embrace everyone’s beauty; but I urge you:

please don’t touch black people’s hair.

 

“Hair is the perfect metaphotor for race.

[it] is something we see, but we don’t understand what’s behind it, kind of like race.

It’s the same way that something seems obvious, but it is really complicated and complex.”

– Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie