Once upon a time there was one little black girl in a class of about 25. She wanted to look like all the other girls in class with their straight silky hair, and blue eyes that matched perfectly with their fair skin. They looked like the dolls she played with everyday after school. Why did she have to have kinky curly hair and dark skin to match her dark brown eyes ? At the time the little black girl did not know that the melanin in her skin gave her a glow that the white girls have to lay in the sun for hours to obtain. She did not realize that just as she wanted straight hair, the white girls pay for harsh chemicals to achieve the same curl that stays in her hair naturally. She never thought that just as she wanted to look like them, they wanted to look like her.
Before anything else I am a Black woman. A piece of my identity that I struggled to understand at a young age being surrounded by Caucasians, and the occasional Asian from pre-k to grade 12. A situation only setting me up to be comfortable being referred to as a minority. Originally born in Hartford,Connecticut we relocated to Lawrenceville,Ga I was 5 years old. Lawrenceville was the epitome of white suburban america, to be blunt. Just think Leave it to beaver but in the late 90′s. Situated in the middle of suburbia was my black (dont forget Jamaican) family of four trying to figure out how to function. I guess we looked like we fit in pretty well with our brand new 98′ Honda accord, dad had the corporate job and took the kids to girl scout meetings and soccer games while mom took care of the home front. My first day of school the white girls did a good job of letting me know I was different. They commented on my kinky plats and the multi-colored hair bows that went so perfectly with my outfit each day. Not only was I the new girl, I was the new black girl. Never having trouble making friends I tried my best to fit in, but still was able to standout in the line- up of fair skinned girls.
It wasnt until about 2nd or 3rd grade when I got my first real history lesson highlighting the oppression of my forefathers. Ms. Kim I remember her and her short bouncy blonde hair vividly read us the story of Ruby Bridges. Which then made me realize I was her. I went home that day with so many questions and needed clarification. I could not grasp why they did not like Ruby Bridges and if her story would be mine one day. That was probably around the time my dad forced my brother and I to watch Amistad a very graphic, and long movie about a slave ship. I remember being in shock until I fell asleep.
I had never witnessed racism to my knowledge until about 5th grade when I moved to good ol Grayson,GA ….. moving here taught me that people hunt deer, for fun. At least this time there was one other black girl in class (go figure). There was a little boy who insisted on pushing my buttons every single day. Why he picked me out of the crowd ? No idea. I will never forget the day he called me the n-word. I did not know why, or where it came from, but i remember it making me extremely angry. I remember him repeating it and I also remember my hand leaving a red mark on his pale white face. Problem solved. To this day, I dont think that he understood the word, or the history behind it. I believe he was taught that it was a word with hatred behind it, and that it is used to hurt, he was trying to hurt me. And it worked.
It was not too long after that, that my dad gave me a history lesson on Marcus Garvey ( as a Jamaican you MUST know who that is). My mom taught me about Oprah, and Madame CJ Walker. I fell in love with my history ! They dont tell you about these people at school. But why ? They tell us about all these white people then give us 5 mins of history about Martin Luther KIng Jr and Rosa Parks and then its on to the next unit. It was around this time when I began to understand and embrace my identity. My dad still to this day tells me how important it is to know my history. How do you know where you wanna go if you dont know where you came from ?
I’ve been told that I “talk like a white girl,” too many times by too many people family, friends, strangers alike. But it baffles me that speaking with a lack of slang terms, and a southern drawl means that I “sound white”. I mean really am I supposed to “talk like a black girl”. What does that even sound like ? As if there is shame in enunciating my words ? Unfortunately because white people are the majority everything we do is in comparison to the “white standard” the way we walk, talk, wear our clothing,and level of intelligence. As if I am less qualified for the job because I am a black woman. With that being said, I will always be perceived as less intelligent, I will be paid the least, and will forever be judged because I am a “Black Woman.” I will always have to work twice as hard in order to prove where I am an asset to society. I welcome the challenge ! I was never taught to believe anyone was better than me, that I should always strive to be the best. I will continue to do so in continuing to pursue my degree, as well as climb the corporate ladder. Im Black, Ambitious, and Intelligent …… 3 things that make the white man sweat. Grab a towel white man, because there’s plenty more women like me.
hair and dark skin to match her dark brown eyes ?
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
Once upon a time there was one little black girl in a class of about 25. She wanted to look like all the other girls in class with their straight silky hair, and blue eyes that matched perfectly with their fair skin. They looked like the dolls she played with everyday after school. Why did she have to have kinky curly hair and dark skin to match her dark brown eyes ? At the time the little black girl did not know that the melanin in her skin gave her a glow that the white girls have to lay in the sun for hours to obtain. She did not realize that just as she wanted straight hair, the white girls pay for harsh chemicals to achieve the same curl that stays in her…
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