The Inquisitive Black Girl

Blackness

Scrolling through the pages of a beauty magazine, I look for a couple hair styles to switch up my image, but I can’t find anyone who looks like me, has hair like me, because it really seems that these days, being me isn’t what people really want to see.

Maybe a lighter version of me would look better. Maybe if I had different hair, I would fit your mold and societies mold, because that’s really what I’m being told even if I’m not directly being told these things.

Why is my big hair, my wild, frizzy, mind of their own curls so unpresentable?

Why is the very hair that many black women have seen as their biggest embarrassment. Yes weaves, wigs, extensions are used for different reasons, but for many it’s a way to hide from who they really are. Why is bone straight and wet and wavy the only styles considered beautiful? Why is 4b and 4c hair considered to be untamed and “not good hair”?

Why is my skin not fit for the magazines? When they do finally chose to show someone of color it’s not actually representative of all blacks. Maybe throwing a dark girl in the magazine would ruin the aestetic, and if that is the case, why?

Why is it that butterscotch and caramel skin completions are considered to be so much prettier than chocolate and mocha? Why is black not beautiful unless it’s mixed?

And don’t be so confused as to think this is simply a white on black issue. It’s a black on black issue too. It’s colorism.

Why has it become a trend that when asked what race, many blacks will go above and beyond to link themselves to some other race outside of black just to fit in? Or maybe its to feel superior to someone who is fully black, knowing good and well that they are fully black too.

As if to say that being black isn’t one of the most beautiful things on earth. As if being black is something to be ashamed of. That our history wasn’t a key factor in make us who we are today. That being black makes us less than perfect, less than desirable.

Why is black skin associated with something bad? Why is it that you look at us, only see our skin color and from there can decide whether we’re pretty or not? Whether we match up to your expectations?

And why is it when we find the courage to stand up for us and believe that we are beautiful we’re deemed too proud, too bold, too ignorant, etc?

Well, I’ll always be too much of something to some people, everyone will, and I can live with that. But fortunately we were just enough for God. He didn’t make any mistakes when he created me, or when he created you. He didn’t accidentally paint us black. Black isn’t a punishment. Being dark isn’t a problem. Having course hair isn’t a curse.

It really is the blessing to be black and living in America today. It’s to be the solution they thought was the problem. It’s to be made in the image of God like every other race in this world. It truly is beautiful.

I say this as the half Nigerian and half Kenyan American I am today. I wouldn’t trade my features for the world, no matter how unruly the world might think they are, because to tell God that He made a mistake on me would be blasphemy.

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The Frequent Flyer

Frequent Flyer

If you are anything like me, the majority of the time you spend traveling is spent in the airport or in the air because where you are and where you want to go is too far to drive. Or you could drive the distance, but it just would not be as efficient. Whatever the reason, you’ve spent so much time in the airport that flying has inevitably lost its luster.

When I was little I loved the airport. Everything about flying and traveling was an adventure and I could not get enough of it. But as a reach 20 years of life, the statement, “I’m over it” could not be any more accurate in describing my feelings towards flying.

Also, if you are like me, sitting next to strangers for extended periods of time isn’t exactly your thing either. I’m all about personal space and with airplane seats progressively getting smaller and my legs getting longer sitting on planes is just uncomfortable.

Normally, I’m a cell phone or magazine type of person. My head is down, I don’t usually make eye contact, I speak if spoken too, and if awkward eye contact is made, then I’ll flash my, no teeth smile to make things a little less awkward.

Well recently I broke my own mold and decided to have a conversation with the passenger flying next to me. My flight was from Charlotte to Atlanta so the total time in the air was about 40 minutes. I thought I could spare 40 minutes of my life to step outside of my comfort zone and actually communicate with someone instead of pretending that they were not there.

To say the least the experience was a positive one. Though I did not get this person’s name, he kindly broke the ice within our row on the plane by offering his pretzel M&M’s to us. He was sitting in the middle and the flight had just begun when he broke out the candy. “Would you like some?” he said. I replied by saying, “No, thank you.” Then he said, “Are you sure?”

Now I know this was a small gesture, but it was a friendly one at that. It was friendly enough for me, the anti-social flyer that I am, to consider continuing the conversation, and I did. We talked about UVA, basketball, baseball, D1 athletics, banking, sports broadcasting, different airlines, constant air travel and much more. Remember, this flight was only 40 minutes so we covered quite a bit of ground in such a short period of time.

By the end of the flight I knew a little bit about him which was pretty cool. I new that he had a younger daughter, really liked baseball, was from Georgia but worked in Charlotte and frequently traveled back and forth between the two cities every week.

The likelihood of me ever seeing this man again isn’t very strong, so getting to know him and learning about him might seem like a complete waste of time to some, but the take way from this conversation for me was much bigger than just getting to know a stranger.

What I learned was that everyone has a story and that we are more alike than we think. Someone once said, “You’d fall in love with everyone if you took the time to hear their story”, and after this travel experience I could not agree more. Everyone has something going for them, something interesting, something you can relate to, and something that can cause you to feel different emotions and change your perspective.

In this conversation, I realized that though we seemed very different just by appearance, we actually had a good amount in common.

My biggest take away from this is that often we get so consumed in ourselves and what we are doing; what’s going well, what’s not going well, etc. that we forget to pay attention to the people around us.

My Challenge: Next time you are out in a public setting, take the opportunity to talk to someone you don’t know. While the idea can be intimidating at first, you have to realize that people are more friendly than we give them credit for. I can almost guarantee that you will walk away from that conversation having learned something new, and maybe even have a new perspective on people, allowing you to reflect upon your habits in public settings. Just try it. You won’t regret it.

Midsummers As Told By Me

Midsummers

Midsummers is…

The one weekend in the summer when everyone comes back. The weekend you’re introducing old friend to new faces. When Wertland, 14th and 15th street, and The Corner always look alive. When the parties start early, the nights are too much fun and the mornings comes too soon.

When pool parties seem like the best move around, and a little sunshine and good vibes is all you need. When you look at your hair after being in the pool and realize why you hate chlorine. When the BBQ is on point and mingling becomes your newest hobby. When towing shouldn’t be enforced but you know how that stuff goes.

When hanging out with all of your friend groups is made possible. When school work is nonexistent. When you really don’t have to leave your friends apartment to have fun because all you need is speakers and a hype playlist.

When you swear you’re running through the 6 with your woes, but you’re really just running through the 434 and let’s be honest, you’re walking, but those are just minor details. When naps are necessary to survive the night and “turn up” is redefined. When squad pictures are a must for the gram.

When moving between Boylan, Trinity, Coupes and “said house party” is a casual thing; I mean you can’t just have one move, it’s Midsummers. When you’re sweating bullets but the music and people are too good to leave. When talking on the street outside of Christians Pizza at 2am sounds like a good idea, and you don’t even like pizza. When you realize it’s 7/11 so you decide to get your free slurpee at 7-Eleven, even though it’s the middle of the night. When your behavior is at it’s worst, or better put, when you’re always on your worst behavior.

When Safe Ride is working overtime, but the only reason you know that is because you saw 30 people fighting over 12 seats in the van as you comfortably drove past… Thank goodness that’s not me anymore.

When Sunday comes and you realize third session is only a day way, but that’s depressing, so you look ahead to Block Party.

Until next time, goodbye Midsummers! It’s been real!

An Open Letter To DC

Open Letter

In less than a week, my internship in DC will come to an end, and I will be heading back to the life I once knew. While this change might not be as dramatic as the previous sentence makes it seem, it still will be a significant change moving back into my comfort zone.

So here is an an open letter capturing the sights, sounds and experiences that I have encountered in DC.

To DC,

Where there is a Starbucks every four blocks, where knowing street numbers and letters is important. Where the metro is the best thing that has ever happened to you, except for when it’s delayed, and your feet are your most reliable form of transportation.

To the city where, a man selling news papers says, “Good morning young lady. Have a nice day” every morning, where a homeless man walked up beside me and handed me a flower in exchange for a quarter. Where emergency sirens are the music of the streets and where Whole Foods and CVS are your most “convenient” stores around.

The city where I learned a block is longer than I thought, where I had to carry my groceries home so only got what I could carry for eight blocks. Where the Metro is like Marta (the Atlanta metro transportation) but more expensive. The city where I questioned women wearing sneakers and business attire because that’s not exactly the best fashion statement, but then realized why people actually wore that; comfort over fashion any day. So I consider joining them but my pride got in the way. Where I learned heels hurt but flats do too, where food trucks are cool, and where I discovered my favorite restaurants, Protein Bar and District Taco. Where it clicked for me, cities are way different than suburbs and having a car is a luxury.

Where you find Georgetown charming, the waterfront beautiful, and M Street, where your money goes to die. RIP! Where Chinatown is an area you don’t want to go alone, the National Mall is always a good idea, and for me the Washington Monument the best of all.

The city where when you walk down the street you are essentially looking at your own Pinterest coming to life. The thought of, “Oh, I’d pin that outfit”, crosses your mind often. The city where there are so many restaurant options you can never say you’re bored with the food in the area, and where pastry shops are prominent.

To the city where I realized, it takes a day to make 30 minutes of interesting television content. Where I found out live sports broadcasts and television broadcasts are quite similar. Where I found out Tony Reali is the man, Bomani Jones is hilarious and Josh Bard is the best boss ever. Where it hit me that a 9am-5pm (really a 9am-4pm) is harder than I thought.

Where I began to appreciate being around people my own age. Where I missed seeing familiar faces everyday. Where I became more independent and mentally tough. Where I began to solve my own problems and budget for my own success. Where I learned the most about being in the business world because some things just cannot be taught, but only experienced. Where I was pushed out of my comfort zone. Where the memories of my summer 2015 took place. Where I have called home for the past eight weeks. Where I will surprisingly miss, even if it’s just a little bit.

Thanks DC!