Everybody is not going to be happy with the choices you make.
And at the end of the day (this is the GIANT thing I’ve learned):
Who the hell cares?
Quite recently and during the last few months, I started feeling poorly about myself and environment I was in. I was smiling but it felt only sincere when I was surrounded by people I genuinely liked. I was laughing – but sometimes even those moments felt hollow. I couldn’t quite understand what I was going through, but I had this huge epiphany literally seconds ago… who the hell cares? There is so much power in that statement.
I care. The people who matter care. Those who see the bigger picture of the work that I am doing care. Those who the work is benefiting, supporting, giving a voice to, they care. True, genuine, and supportive allies – they care. And sometimes all of those people who care arenotsitting at the same table as I am. Sometimes I’m the odd ball out, however, I have got to stop letting the folks who do not see the value in my work dictate my mood. I have to stop letting folks who have generationally always been in power decide how I feel every day. I have to deconstruct the thought that maybe my work does not matterbecause it does. My work is bigger than myself. My work is for Black girls who never thought they could be in a position of power. For Black folx who felt as though they were consistently climbing up stairs that had no final destination. For individuals of color who have been fighting a battle for years and still have not seen quite what they deserve. For young students, kids, teenagers, adults, that are members of an array of marginalized communities who are striving for success in a society that claims they will never make it there.
My work is for them. And although I am exhausted working this hard every single day – at the end of the day, my work matters. So, I will continue to be outspoken. I will continue to be a voice that empowers the voiceless to use theirs. I will continue to do this work if it means I get to see someone who traditionally was not, is not, and the society believes should not, walk across a graduation stage with a diploma in their hand.
If you’re competing with other people to drive your success, you have already failed. And although failure can be seen as a beautiful thing, since it is the beginning of your comeback story, you actively trying to be better than someone else as opposed to being better than who you were yesterday illustrates an insecurity within you that is far too deep to be healed by an A on a test or a “good job!” by your supervisor.
What’s wrong with internal validation? Nothing. Emotionally healthy people have their own internal validation. That doesn’t mean that people do not get insecure, feel like the weight of the world has existed on their shoulders, strained their back carrying the anxieties of most days, and worry about what’s coming up the pipe line. Through all of these uncomfortable feelings, these people still move mountains. They are guided by their passions, challenged by their weaknesses, and embrace the momentum they have found within themselves. It’s about the journey of getting to where they want to be that has the most impact on who they are about to become, what keeps them motivated, and creates a resilience within themselves that no one can ever defeat. At least that is how it feels for me.
I’m not a pro at any type of psychology. I received my degree in Sociology and Criminology and I still would not even say that I am a pro in that. However, through analyzing my experiences moving throughout a variety Corporate Americas’ nine to fives, seeing co-workers, teammates, friends, and more around me failing at becoming everything they have aspired to be, and even taking the time to address insecurities within myself— I have learned a few things.
When I was younger, around middle school to high school, I thought life was about receiving a degree, getting a good job, paying your bills, and living like that day by day. Additionally, I thought to obtain all of these things, you had to make sure everyone around you liked you. I craved to be liked and would bend myself backwards to ensure that if someone did not like me, how could I change to make sure they did?When I realized I was living for everyone else’s approval, that left a void in me so large that felt impossible to fill…and it was. When living for other people’s approval, I was trying to meet their expectations that align with their values. This created a painful dissonance and separation between what they expected from me and who I actually was. Additionally, it fogged my view as to who I even wanted to be. By molding myself every day to meet the needs, wants, desires, and expectations of those around me – I was constantly tired and at the end of the day when looking in the mirror I had to ask myself: Do you actually like who you are? The amount of times that felt like a trick question was endless because since I was living to please others and competed with others… I didn’t even know who the hell I was. Along with that, I did not know who the hellI wanted to be and how the hellI was going to get there if I kept looking for others approval. So, Freshman year of college, I stopped.
Freshman year of college was a year of rapid growth, immense change, and an intense beginning of the journey to become the person I am now. You will hear me say it time and time again, I hate competition. When I meet folks, who are competing with other people solely because they “want to be better than them,” that is the energy I stay far away from. It makes me uneasy, keeps me uncomfortable, and places the worst taste in my mouth. How far are they willing to go to ensure that they are better than them? What type of behavior are they going to participate in? There is vast difference between those who compete with another person because they feel inspired by that person but still support that person and refrain from participating in toxic behavior to diminish them and those who actively seek to find ways to exhibit to other people that they are better than who they are competing against. The real question those people have to ask themselves is this: Do you like you? Are you proud of you? And if you’re reading that and struggling to find an answer, hesitated to answer, or felt you had to convince yourself that yes, I do like me… this is where the reflection can begin. This is where the support can start. This is where the radical self-love can come forward. When I was surrounded by people who were constantly throwing microaggressions, demonizing communities, speaking poorly of cultural identities different from their own – I had grown exhausted of being a part of it. I spoke out, lost friends, but gained empowerment. When I had settled into what being me meant, I learned that it had nothing to do with those who were around me. It had to do with what I had inside of myself – and I had a whole lot of drive, a whole lot of determination, and a whole lot of “why the hell should I care if people like me if I am standing up for what is right, what I care for, what matters to me?” I learned that our society is already competitive, oppressive, and negative– why am I going to continue and be a part of the trend?
If someone were to ask me what I thought life was about, this is exactly what I would tell them:
Life is not about competition. It is about inspiring, helping, encouraging, and empowering others so we can all reach our greatest potential. If you’re busy trying to do what others are doing solely to be better than them, not finding and learning your own passions to drive yourself forward, or looking for constant validation to fill a void that only you can fill (with the support of counseling, loved ones, and beyond) – you will be filling a pocket with a hole at the bottom of it for years. For me, life is about foundational passion, finding your own personal goals, creating yourself for yourself, and empowering those around you to do the exact same. Although I am constantly working on who I am, who I want to be, and have acknowledged that growth and healing is not linear, I have found that I am living for myself. Understanding how liberating that truly is has been one of the most impactful turning points in my life. Therefore, at the end of the day, when I am doing certain things in my job, in my personal life, or even the classroom… I am doing those things with love, not for it.
Someone told me once that I speak in clichés and I have been reflecting on that ever since.
Was it the way I curled my tongue when I told them that some of these words that I’m repeating have kept me alive for years?
Was it how I played with my lip when I stated that if I didn’t speak like this, my resilience would have trembled at the sight of the next mountain?
Was it how my teeth chattered when I explained that if I did not speak with what they qualified as cliché, if I did not voice my concerns through words that they felt were insincere, or if I had spent my whole entire life rewriting the narratives everyone has been wanting to put in my mouth for what feels like centuries – that I wouldn’t be here right now.
Because although what I say you might not fully believe, my words are not for you.
My words are for me. However, they are also for everyone who has ever felt less than, shrunken, and forgotten. It’s for the people who have felt pushed off to the side, meant to be seen as small, and removed.
My words are meant to pull myself and all of the others out from under the ground and realize that the light they thought had been stolen or lost had been in them all along.
And if you cannot relate with my words, if you feel the necessity to try to figure me out, and if you crave to understand me just to say you accomplished something and you’ve conquered an activity: my words are not for you.
I am not something you can conquer; I am not something you defeat.
It is defined as “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.”
This feeling resonated with me throughout college but has completely unraveled itself over me since August 2018 when I entered Canisius College as an official graduate student. It has been a while since I’ve posted on here. I did not want to write entirely about something I have been experiencing since entering graduate school without the proper introduction as to how I even got here (and trust me, on most days, I’m not sure how I got here either).
It was February of 2018 when the panic had set in. Was I getting a full-time job after undergrad or do I make the choice to further my education?Through constant chats with my professors, advisors, mentors, my friends, and of course, my family, graduate school ended up being my path. However, I had to put in the work to get to that decision. Through resume checks at the career center, signing up for mock interviews, talking to those whose positions inspired me ever since I received the position as a resident assistant- I made sure I spoke to anybody and everybody about what I was considering. I wanted to hear their perspectives, ask questions about their path, learn what empowers them, and draw my inspirations from those conversations. I knew I wanted something familiar but something different. I could not put my finger on it until learning about Canisius College—A small, private, Jesuit-Catholic institution located in Western New York. Something that pushes me is my passion for social justice activism. I had studied gender, became fascinated with the social constructs that guide our society, wanted to have discussions revolving around queer identity, and craved to have a space where I could talk about the intersectionality of it all. However, something I had never truly considered as even part of my path was attending a religiously affiliated institution, but something told me I should.
When I had first arrived, I was greeted with a warm welcome. Hugs came my way, conversations were started, and experiencing Buffalo was just over the horizon. Since I was with my family, I wanted to make sure they were able to check some things off of their bucket lists as well. Therefore, after I checked in, saw my (very first!) apartment, learned a little bit more about what I would be doing—it was time to adventure.
We picked up our things and traveled to the Buffalo zoo, Niagara Falls, and dinner at a French restaurant in downtown Buffalo. When we returned to my apartment, we continued to unpack, shop for necessities, and reality slowly began to set in. I was officially beginning my career within Higher Education and Student Affairs Administration. I hugged my family goodbye, watched them drive off, and began my life at Canisius College.
Hall Director training was both nerve-racking and exciting. Although I was constantly being called on to answer questions, there was something enriching about that. Something had told me when I was sitting, listening to presentations, and eagerly waiting to meet my first ever RA staff that I was in the right place, doing the right thing, and going through the right path. I was smiling, I was excited, but more importantly, I was ready.
RA training began and I could feel the shakiness in my voice when I had to hold my very first staff meeting. Although none of the RAs had made me feel like I was not capable, I was extremely focused on not messing anything up. However, as the year progressed—my team became my family. Just like any family, hiccups happened, team dynamics shifted, and life got in the way sometimes—but at the end of the day, I am proud of who my team became and everything we conquered throughout the year.
Academics was a whole other notion that was extremely daunting, uncomfortable, but riveting. Sitting in another classroom feeling as though I do not belong, but also understanding the hard work I put in every single day got me to this very place: I felt an extreme amount of dissonance. I was walking on the edge of “I’m confident I am meant to be here and am capable of doing this work,”and “How did you even get here? Who let you squeeze through the education system to sit in this very seat?”The constant back and forth of wanting to believe in myself and understanding the world around me, how academia was not meant for women like me, how this classroom wasn’t built to advance me, and how this knowledge wasn’t created for me tore me into several pieces every single day. Nevertheless, just like I did in college, I won my first year of graduate school. I stayed motivated, I stayed focused, and I stayed determined to not only prove to myself that I am capable, but to show other Black girls and Black women that they can do this too.
I write this as I sit in Rohnert Park, California for a summer internship. High school me would be so damn shocked at where I am sitting right now, what I am doing, and how far I have come. I am breaking the status quo. By being a Black woman, by existing as a Black woman, by fighting as a Black woman—that is power in and of itself. I’m 23 years old and still fighting to recognize that but acknowledging it has gotten so much easier. Here’s to the things I’ve done, the things I’m doing, and to the things I will do. To those Black girls and all Black womxn and beyond reading this, I cannot wait to see what we conquer together and how the world will try to silo and keep us out. We were meant for this, we were made for this, and this is just the beginning.
I feel my anxiety sitting infront of my heart.
And I am just waiting for it to stand on my rib cage and beat on its chest like it’s won me over.
So I can battle it again-
interlocking it with my bones and grating it to be just enough dust that when it rises up again— it will be as small as it makes me out to be.
I want all of you to see that you are more than capable of completing every single thing you write down in your planner, take note of as your goals, fight for in your everyday life, and strive to complete. You are more than capable to conquer everything even beyond that.
You are smart. No matter what anyone tells you, you are intelligent. Your mind is filled with colors, your thoughts add sparkle, and your dreams put forth the most incomparable magic that shines through the shade of your skin. Your Blackis beautiful.
You are beautiful. And although there will be days where you won’t love how the curls fall on your face, how your skin carries your ancestors, and how your curves hold your resilience, through every corner, crack, or whichever ways oppression tries to sneak its way in, you are beautiful. And I need for you to recognize this not only when you look in the mirror, but when you tell yourself that what others are saying are not true. When you notice the lack of representation on your tv screen, hear the rhetoric from the community around you, and taste the sour feeling of someone who carries hate in their heart as they look your way:
You are meant to be here. And no matter how much this world tries to shrink you, pull you apart, or erase you– you are meantto be here.
And I can’t wait to wish you a happy birthday again.
I think everything just hit me all at once. I am leaving. I am no longer an undergraduate student, I am officially a graduate student paving my way to my success whichever way I measure it. Although I can completely look back and see all of the hard parts of my past four years, those hard parts wouldn’t have toughened me up for the rest of the world that I have been begging to see since I was a Black girl unable to really understand why some parts of the United States really just aren’t safe for someone who wears this color on their skin. Creating myself has been one of the most rewarding but completely tiring things I have done and it simply is not over yet. I have so much more to do, so much more to offer, and so much more to change… and not only for other people, but for myself as well.
Something valuable about self-reflection is the ability to know when you have checked off something huge in your life. If you can recognize the hurdles you have jumped, the wounds that you thought were never going away healed, and even though there are some days where it feels like you maybe took 15 steps back in your journey to recovery or happiness—those are just days. You have the ability to make it farther, you have made it this far.
I took the world around me for granted. And although I am speaking about the items I have, the roof over my head, and the clothes on my back, I am also speaking about those who have taken the time out of their day to show me they care. Whether that was through a small gesture, an “I hope you feel better!” text, a “do you need help with…?” question, those were all small moments of pure love.
I just got back from dinner with two amazing people in my life. People that I can honestly say I would never want anything to happen to our friendships moving forward. After they had left, I began to really think about those who I allow into my life and how I could not understand what I had done in my past life to have gotten so lucky. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who would walk you through a breathing exercise on the day of closing when your anxiety decided to flare up. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who would offer to drive to your school and help you move things home then pick up your belongings and drive to your new home that is 6+ hours away. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who would remind you what you deserve when you come crashing into their room at 1:00AM and don’t know what to do with yourself. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who wipe your tears and allow you to take a moment on the days you know you have far too much to do but you’re stability shakes and cracks whenever you pick up your pen and pack your bag. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who speak highly of you to the friends they made at their institution. Not everyone has the chance to meet people who would let you just vent about anything and everything—even if you did feel as though it was a stupid thing to vent about. What matters is that they listen. These people make you feel as though you are listened to, you are understood, your feelings are valid, you are more than capable, and you are enough. These are the people who I want to be surrounded by every single day. These are the people I want to thank.
I spent the last blog reaching out to those who tried to fold me back into myself. The people who ached for my weakness and grinned when they learned what would hurt me. But this is for the ones who remind me on my darkest days that the light will return shortly. That even though it is dark now, I have always fought and climbed my way out of it and that I should be proud of that. That I am more than I thought I ever would be and I need to start owning that. That people who truly care for you will always make sure that they show you they do.
This one is for you.
I want to say thank you to those who allowed me to be completely vulnerable. Who chose to support me while I put myself back together which, on some days, felt almost impossible. Those who chose to deny the hatred that floods the media for “people like me,” and created their own sparkling views to envision me as someone who deserves to speak, who deserves to smile, who deserves to learn, and who deserves to live. I want to say thank you because although we are all busy, tending to our lives, hopefully taking moments of rest to reassure ourselves that that too is an essential part of progress towards success and happiness—you are the people who I want to spend the rest of my life with. You have no idea what you all have done for me and a blog post won’t show that, nor will any amount of thank you’s come close to the amount of gratitude and immense amount of tear jerking love I have for everything you are. The type of love you have given me in these past four years (and some of you reading this, my whole entire life) I hope I am giving it back to you. And if I have failed in doing that in one way or another, this is me taking the moment to let you know that I love you, that I care for you, and I appreciate you. The type of support, love, care, and positive energy is what I want to give to others for the rest of my life—if I can help people feel how I feel right now: loved, empowered, appreciated, cared for, understood, and at ease— at least one person, I will know I have done enough. Thank you for helping me understand that the days I feel as though I have shrunk to the last drop of resilience I have left, that there is a whole glass waiting for me tomorrow. Those are just days and I have the ability to try again.
Whether it was in high school when these girls made a fake Instagram page about me – to college where I ultimately just trusted the wrong people, lost respect for those who chose to change others views of me, and were smiling in my face one minute and saying reckless things the next, thank you.
Truly, I mean this, thank you. And if you’re reading this and get a sense of heat that comes over your body, maybe that you feel guilty. I am not asking for you to feel this way. This isn’t meant to be sarcastic nor facetious. It is because of you and the support I got along the way, that I am where I am today.
It is because of the girl in elementary school who called me names, yelled about how the darkness I wear on my skin was everything but gorgeous, and made fun of how I look at recess that I choose to make it my mission to ensure brown/black people feel beautiful (I do this loudly).
It is because of the girls in middle school who used to exclude me from their conversations and ignore what I had to say because I wasn’t “pretty enough” that I demand my voice to be heard as well as many other marginalized groups in our nation (I do this loudly).
It is because of the boys in high school who played lacrosse, basketball, football, and etc.. who indirectly almost always made me feel less than, that I directly tell girls growing up that the approval of boys is not of their concern during this time in their lives. It is okay if you are not dating or if you do not have a partner. You are in this time to create and discover who you are, to pass your tests, to turn in your homework, and to make it to high school (I do this loudly).
It is because of the girls in high school who told me I looked like a troll (and the boy who laughed about agreeing with it), made fun of my body type which led me to questioning my eating habits, attacked my way of speaking, slandered my name when I wasn’t present, and told me I would not amount to anything that I tell those around me to have a thick skin- but understand that it is okay to talk to someone. It is okay to be vulnerable to someone. It is okay to cry. Therapy, self-reflection, a chance to forgive those who have put shackles around your wrists of confidence, tied you to your insecurities, and lit a fire underneath your chance to even smile at yourself in the mirror and convince yourself that what they are saying is not true… is necessary. Do not forgive those people for them, you owe them nothing. Forgive those people for you.
It is because of the girls in college who made me feel as though “Black” was a bad word, the girl who made me feel like I wasn’t pretty enough to be introduced to all of her friends, the boys in college who tried to define me as just a body, the boy in college who told others that I just “get everything,” unknowing of the times I had to find a way to make sure I could eat dinner on most nights, carry my emotional stability on my back, and try not to unfold at the wreckage that alcoholism, separation, addiction, and DCF had created. If I got everything, I would have had a childhood.
It’s because of these experiences, these words people shamelessly toss around whether it was cause of anger, hurt, jealousy, or you just did not like me, that I fight for those who endure(d) the same things I did. It is why I choose to work with students to make sure that they know their past does not control their future. That the mistakes they made, the people who hurt them, the wrong people they let into their lives, the harsh words said to them or about them, the humanity people would strip them of day in and day out, will not conquer them.
Granted, I own up to things I have done in my past. Hurt people, hurt people. Please read that again. Hurt people, hurt people. Once I had heard that, once I really understood that, and once I had realized I had lived that—it only put things into perspective for me.
Being in a marginalized community, you already have society trying to convince you that you do not belong and maybe that is why it hurts more when those close to you try to do the same. In my opinion, forgiveness is the hardest thing to accomplish. Once you do, it is like you can finally exhale and move forward. Sometimes you have to hurt to get to the next part of your life plan. You have to forgive, you have to move forward, and at the end of the day, you are going to have to fight. And unlike those who chose to tear people down to get to where they are…you will be stronger. And I will be your biggest fan.
I am fine with awards. Those show that people are recognizing the work you have put in, the amount of yourself you have given to a cause, and ensure that you are being appreciated for all that you have done. Certainly, it is about time that Women of Color start being recognized for all that they have actually been doing for years.
I am fine with recognition. It is nice to know that people are seeing all that I have put my heart into, understand that I am not just doing this just to do it, but I am doing it to make the lives of those who look like me significantly better than what I have had, what my mother has had, what grandmother has had, and more. Continuing the work of my ancestors, gaining the courage to act against racial oppression in whichever way possible, and wholeheartedly understanding that people are always going to tell me that I can’t, but that only motivates me to show them that oh, in fact, I can. And I’ll do it significantly better than they assumed I would.
But for me, it’s not about the awards. It’s not about winning. Those aren’t important factors for me, although I am so grateful for the recognition of being able to represent girls of color and have them see me and realize they are able to do that as well. It’s about the individual lives I have learned that I have touched. It’s about seeing a student at the beginning of the year, learning about them, understanding their past, relating with their oppression, and challenging them to help them understand that the sky is not their limit. It’s about hearing at the end of the year, “Tasia, watching you has only made me want to do more. I did not think I would complete high school and I did, and seeing you has definitely made me want to push to complete college.”
That’s what I live for.
I graduated from Framingham State University. If you would have told me I would be graduating from a college that I became a Front Desk Attendant at the tutoring center, Orientation Leader, Foundations Peer Mentor, Resident Assistant, Administrative Resident Assistant, Student Admissions Representative, Supplemental Instructor, Sexual Harassment and Education Prevention Student Liaison Facilitator, Managing Editor and Public Affairs Intern for the Council on Contemporary Families with published work, a phenomenal woman nomination (Thank you, Bailey!), and left with two state awards, and a regional award later… I would have told you that you were the biggest liar in the world. I would have denied what you were saying, minimized my potential, and told you that you have the wrong girl. But now, looking back on all of my accomplishments, I can literally say, “girl, you did that.” That was all me. And of course, those who supported me along the way. Those who believed in me regardless of my skin color, disregarded the stereotypes forced upon me, dismissed the negative ideas related to being a Black woman, and allowed for me to shine in any way that I wanted to.
That’s what I live for.
I chose to surround myself with people who were fully aware of the issues I face, wanted to support me, and were entirely there for me throughout the entire process. Although not everyone was there for me since day one, like Marcie, or Amanda, Brandi, or even Virginia, and plenty more — the moments that they were there for me made all of the difference. It was about being able to go to them just to talk about my feelings, voice my concerns, when I needed reminders that I was capable, and being 100% and authentically myself with them. Finding people that I did not have to pretend in front of.
I was used to pretending… putting on my “professional” voice, sitting cross-legged, ensuring that my outfit was just the right bit loose and not too tight or revealing because the way people saw me cause of my skin color changed even how I dressed. I had to make sure that I looked professional every day, smiled lots so people wouldn’t be scared around me, and made sure I spoke with the most light-hearted voice I could. But when you find the right people, you do not have to pretend around them.
It took me a whole year to find my people, to move forward with my passions, and to fit where I felt I belonged.
It was my second year of college that had changed everything. After a break up, a few weeks of crying, and a few moments of “who the hell am I?” I battled with feeling confident on some days and ready to the crumble the next. Something about being extremely independent is that I never would allow people to help me. I wanted to take things on myself, handle every situation that brought me into emotional turmoil behind closed doors, and I never wanted to say no. Having six jobs during my second year of college, I felt as though it was time for me to say yes to help and no to things I could not do. With all of the twists that came my way in sophomore year, I still remained on top. I graduated, didn’t I? With a 3.7 overall GPA and 3.9 in my major.
The world does not want Black women to be confident, to share their successes, to be recognized, but I will repeat myself time and time again. With the amount of external forces trying to push me down, the negative words I was hearing about me from others or sometimes even directly, White men being angry and claiming that “I get everything,” when in fact I have worked tirelessly to get to where I am now, remaining calm in the face of injustices happening around me that I always took personally, balancing 6 jobs, academics, a social life, and wanting to be the biggest supporter for others: I did it. And I’m not finished yet.
I may have done this in the traditional four years. However, something that I want you all to take note of is the fact that it does not matter how you do it or how long it takes you to do it. If it takes you longer, that does not mean you failed. At least you did it. You had the support system to get you there, the mind-set to believe in yourself (and it is okay that on some days, you do not feel like you believe in yourself. Turn to your friends, your family, and those who are true to you on those days. Those who make you feel empowered and who remind you who you are. You are not weak when you get help, acknowledging your vulnerable moments and taking care of yourself is the strongest thing you can do), and you have had the resilience to keep persisting. When you feel like stopping, when you feel like you are doing everything wrong, when you feel tired, take a break, heal, and start over again.
Because even in this world full of injustice, full of systems that want you to fail, you are doing it.
And watching you, helping you rise, and supporting you throughout your success, however you measure it…
Black girls at my school always thought I was too White to be a part of their groups… that I acted White.
What the heck did that even mean?
When I looked down at my skin, saw how people stared at me in shopping malls, stopped me in Walmart due to the fact they believed I was stealing, how people talked to me in the classroom, treated me on school grounds… I have been pretty certain that I have been Black my whole entire life.
But why wasn’t I the “right type” of Black?
These girls were preaching about checking in on each other, ensuring that we are all one, saying that we need to stand by each other but growing up in Amherst with my skin… it left me feeling like an outcast both in Amherst and in Framingham.
I remember the names I would get called when I was younger. People told me I was an “o r e o ” since I was White on the inside and Black on the outside…and this gracefully carried over into college when people would tell me, “you’re not like other black girls! you’re different!” and me analyzing every curl of their lips when they stated things like that. I still think about when I would preach about unity and although I understand when I say, “white people” I am not specifically talking about individual white people—this is all one big systemic issue. If you’re reading this, read it with the mindset that white privilege is real, America is constantly comparing my beauty standards to those who are white, and those with lighter skin- in any race- get some benefits compared to those with darker skin.
But something that always tugged at me was the fact that some Black girls, including those of darker complexion, wouldn’t include me in their conversations. I did not “act” how they wanted me to, I came from a predominately white town so I guess Imust not be Black.
However, some folks who were white made me fully aware of my Blackness.
This is why, to this day, it still strikes me when Black girls do not want to support other Black girls. I mean, I get it. You are not going to like everybody. But society has already taken the Black woman’s body, coerced others to see it as irregular and grotesque, created an idea for communities to see it as animalistic and aggressive, all while continuously sexualizing it. Black women’s’ bodies are already being compared to what is seen as beautiful– white bodies. However, times are changing. Having traditionally Black features on a lighter skinned woman tends to be more attractive currently. If people are already comparing us to White women, why can’t us Black women just love each other? Love each others looks, each others talents, and each others successes.
When I see any Black girl making moves, winning awards, starting her own business, getting a promotion, I am standing bright-eyed and loud-mouthed screaming for her because she is making history.
If the world is already breaking down Black women, why are other Black women joining in?
People tend to forget that we all come from different backgrounds. We grew up in different places, lived through a plethora of different experiences, and those experiences shaped us to act in our own personal ways. Hopefully, we are all fully aware of that. I’m in awe that people are capable of excluding those who do not fit their standard definition of a “Black girl.” We are all focused on being the most “woke” that sometimes we forget about the real issues. We see the police brutality, we understand mass incarceration, we relate with young girls getting pulled out of school for their braids or their gorgeous locs, and on social media we support those who are going through these incidents. We create hashtags, we have protests, we acknowledge their pain, and we all become vulnerable together.
I just hope when people say we are “one,” they mean it. After the protests, the club meetings, and the community conversations. Forget that she acts, “too white” because there’s 100% chance she needs just as much support as you do, a 100% chance she wants to support your goals, your ambitions, your shining future, and there is a 100% chance she is going through the exact same oppression you’re facing.
There is also a 100% chance she wants to fight it with you. Her acting whatever you declare as “white” doesn’t change her skin tone.
Sisterhood isn’t anything without the support and most definitely, without the love—from every sister.