26 October 2021
With the growing representation of Black culture in the media, I cannot help but be proud to be Black. I’m proud of my hair that defies gravity. And my skin that other people tan to achieve. And my lips that are constantly being made fun of.
I am proud to be Black because I know, by simply existing today, I am breaking generational curses and ties of the white man.
I am breaking barriers that my ancestors couldn’t even imagine breaking. In a world that was built against me, I am making my ancestors proud and living out their dreams.
A month of liberation
To me, Black History Month is a month of liberation. It’s a month to celebrate how far Black people have come as a collective.
From the Greensboro sit-ins to the 2020 protests after the murder of George Floyd. Our history shows that despite battles within our community, we are strongest when we come together as a collective to fight and break the chains of systemic racism.
All of this makes me feel proud to be Black.
Funny enough, when I was younger I was convinced that I was a white girl. Like, I genuinely thought my hair could do the same thing that these white girls’ hair can do. And, when it didn’t work, I went into a hissy fit wondering, ‘Why?’
And looking back I can understand why I felt like this. When I was a young girl there was not much representation of my skin tone. As much as my mother taught me about the power my skin holds, that couldn’t fit the internalised hate that I had for myself.
But as I grew older, I became liberated, seeing that white women in the media like the Kardashians, wanted to look like me. Big lips and bums. Although these features are too often only valued when on white women, it still made me feel some kind of happiness. Because I thought, “They want to look like me, therefore I must be doing something right.”
Feeling like myself
The peak of the 2020 protests is when I started to feel more like myself.
I realised that as a collective force, we are the biggest threat to a society built for white men. I started researching my history, even though I already knew a lot from what my mother taught me, I still wanted more knowledge.
Knowing that Black people are still facing the effects of slavery, I had an urge to learn more. I started to research more artists that make music for Black people and stumbled across Mos Def, Sister Souljah, Tupac and Queen Latifah.
Collectively, these artists made me feel proud to be a Black woman. I am proud of my history and of my culture.
A letter to my younger self
If I was to write a letter to my younger self, it would simply read, “Be proud of who you are.” That’s all I needed to hear at that stage in life. I am proud to be.
– Kalliyah, Young Ambassador