As young black females we’re susceptible to a lot of criticisms nowadays. In 2015, with the #BlackLivesMatter and #AllBlackLivesMatter movements there are still things that are repeating themselves from 12 years ago when I was a young girl. There were so many comments about me; the way I looked, my skin, my hair… And for a long time I felt like people’s negative comments were defining me. As I began to grow and entered high school, I realized that words were just that. Words. There is no need to take heed of them. I’d like to share a quote with you. Since hearing this quote I have felt so much better about myself and things people say roll off like water off a duck’s back. ‘What other people think of me is none of my business.’
This is a quote from famous drag queen of color RuPaul. Whilst RuPaul himself is not a woman I feel as though a lot of black individuals, not just women, can learn from this. It is a very empowering quote that can take you through your daily life.
I was born in Newark, New Jersey and moved to England before I was two years old. When I first started school I had a strong New Jersey accent. If you’ve seen any movie set in New Jersey you’ll know what I’m talking about. I thought all the kids would like me because I sounded different to them but I was so far from the truth.
I was one of three black children in my class (my best friend is a mix of black and white) so in the beginning it wasn’t totally strange. We would go about our daily primary school lives and everything was normal until one day someone made a comment about my nose.
They said had a fat nose. I was taken by surprise. What was so wrong with my nose? I had always thought that my nose was fine. My nose was apparently fat and needed to be fixed despite me having the smallest nose of all my family members.My immediate reaction was to start crying and run toward the teacher and tell her what had happened.
As I walked towards her, I became fixated on her nose.All through primary and high school I’ve only ever had white teachers, save for two black ones in high school. So I did grow up thinking that the nose on a white person was the desirable nose. The ‘right’ nose. I’d felt extremely put down. I was only seven. Mainstream television showed that I wasn’t supposed to go through this until I was at least 13 years old. As any person would, I only blamed myself. I blamed myself because it was just a default when someone said something nasty to me.
Now this next one is something that all black girls will know about. Hair. We can’t help how our hair grows. Some of us have short curly hair, others have long curly hair and some of us have shaved heads. Guess what? That’s okay. We wear extensions because we want to make our hair longer. We get box braids, twists, weave because our hair doesn’t naturally do those things and that’s okay. What’s not okay is people coming up to you and pulling on your extensions and asking if it’s your real hair.
From my own experience, other people came up to me and physically pulled at my braids and weave and then asking if it was real. It’s not their business. If you want to let them believe it’s real, do it. If you want to let them know it’s fake, do it. I used to have really short curly hair and the back of my hair never grew so I got a great lady who did my hair and the difference was great! Me and my mom tried so many methods of trying to get my hair to grow and I was so happy that her friend knows how to braid for slow growing hair. We tried twists, tying yarn, shaving it off. Any girl who’s had the same problem knows exactly what I’m talking about.
The next time I came across something racial was when I was in high school. A white girl had the gall to call me a ‘nigger’. Now my parents always told me ‘if someone hits you, you hit them back’ and being called that by a white person was as good as a slap in the face. So I hit her. I hit her hard. I pulled her hair and I broke her nose. I’ll admit to you now, it was an overreaction but racial slurs are where I draw the line.
Of course you see other black people using the word ‘nigga’ which would refer to a friend of the same race because we as black people are reclaiming the word. We are taking a word that was created by a white person and using it in a way that doesn’t hurt us. I’ll tell you now, you don’t have to react how I did because you can get reprimanded. Instead just laugh at the person. Their goal is to hurt you. Just laugh and say ‘Oh okay. Good for you if you think that.’ Feel free to educate them as well. No harm in trying to help someone is there. If they don’t want your help, don’t waste your breath.
In conclusion, being black isn’t wrong. It’s just as right as the sky is blue. Just because you’re black doesn’t mean they have the right to treat you like you are lesser. You are a person first and foremost. You can’t stop being black, that’s just a characteristic. It’s not like your hair color which you can change. You can do what you want to your skin and at the end of it you’ll still be a black person. So as I finish I want to bring RuPaul’s quote back to you ‘What other people think of me is none of my business.’ Keep your head held high and pay the ignorant people no mind.