To be Black

I had intended for this to be a photo blog, but I thought I’d explain the inspiration behind the photos. Everything I am writing is from experience.

Colourism
/ˈkʌlərɪz(ə)m/
noun
prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.

Growing up I have experienced colourism in many ways: both overtly and covertly. From family members, to people in school, even strangers. I had family members say that I would be pretty if my complexion were lighter. However, my mum would always tell me that my skin was as beautiful as chocolate; she would constantly remind me that I am beautiful.

I’ve never really struggled with my complexion itself. I love being dark skinned. What I have struggled with, however, is what assumptions are made of me because of my skin tone, as well as how society in general views Black women.

Some of the comments I have heard from people include ‘the darkest I would go is *so and so*’, and the famous ‘I could never be with a Black girl’ from a Black guy himself.

Some things that are said about Black women are disgusting. Black women are viewed as lesser than in very many societies. There are different complexions on the spectrum of being Black and in these societies, the darker you are the less palatable you are. As a Black woman you have to break how you have been defined; how you have been portrayed. It’s difficult. It’s difficult to change one’s mindset, but this does not mean that it is impossible. Society has constructed a box that we are expected to fit in to, but it is up to us to break out of this box and define our own destinies.

It’s sad though, because we believe some of the assumptions about and stereotypes attached to Black people. A few weeks ago I did a work placement. Prior to that, I had my natural hair out, wearing high puffs and twist-outs. In the days leading up to the placement, I called my mum and told her that I bought a straight hair extension so as to look professional. Looking back at the statement I made, I was so disappointed in myself. Why did I not think that my natural hair was professional enough? I subconsciously carried the view that Black hair is unprofessional, that it is nappy, while in fact it isn’t.

To me, the photos below are powerful. I feel beautiful and the quotes speak volumes. They address many aspects that Black women struggle with: our appearance, how people perceive us, how we perceive ourselves, and our potential.

IMG_8193_Facetune_07-05-2019-14-18-220C47BD4A-1512-4E33-A755-EC08113720CE5090BC67-6711-4B40-ABA7-48851B942C8169CEF692-5D51-4D5A-91AB-7592CBC22EB9CF9533E9-BF8C-41B2-B042-6E094CD56CB2.PNG

To be Black is exciting.
To be Black is beautiful.
To be Black is to define yourself.
To be Black is to break boundaries.
To be Black is to be free.

We need to uplift each other. We need to remind each other that we are beautiful. We need to believe that we are capable of doing anything and everything that we set our minds to. We need to empower and educate each other. To know what it means To be Black.

GAKENIA.

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