Monday Motivation: The First Time I Realized I Was Black…

Monday Motivation: The First Time I Realized I Was Black…

Hey guys!

A friend of mine posted on her Facebook page a video from CNN.com with the hashtag, #realizediwasblack. This series CNN is loosely based on the works of WEB Du Bois literary book entitled, ” The Souls of Black Folk”. CNN asked celebrities of colour to recount their stories of the first time they realized they were black. I was captivated and this led me to think about my own “discovery” ( for lack of a better word). Here is my story:

As a young black girl, you know the struggle of “wash day”. Wash day was usually on Saturday  when your mom would wash, chiney bump ( aka bantu knot) blow dry, grease and either braid or style your hair for the week. Now as a young black girl, with thick natural hair, this could be a whole day process! Nevertheless, week after week this had to be done, and week after week I would go to school and see my kinky coils and compare them to the silky ringlets of many of my peers( I mean besides me and my cousin, there were no other black girls in our school at the time)  I wanted my hair to flow down my back like theirs did! I never took into consideration that my hair didn’t operate like that.

Now every so often, my mom would use the hot comb and press out my hair ( mostly to make it easier for her to manage and manipulate) and when she did that I felt like a superstar. My hair was “flat” and laying down my back like my friends.

My mom and dad worked the early shift. Which left me on my own to get ready and get myself off to school at a pretty young age ( don’t judge lol this was over 2 decades ago where it was socially acceptable  and much safer for kids to be home alone and  walk to school by themselves) Every morning, I would get up, get ready and meet my cousin at the corner and off to school we would walk together. I  must have been about 7 or 8 years old at the time.

One particular time,  my mom pressed my hair and had just left it in a simple ponytail without the usual frills and ribbons and clips. I saw this as my opportunity to “wear my hair down” . So when I got to school, I had my cousin take out my ponytail and brush out my hair and help me put on a headband.  I strutted like a peacock into that classroom and was met with stares….

Immediately I began to feel funny.. Why was everyone staring at me? and then it happened …One of my  peers looked at me and said, “Eww Sophia! Why does your hair look like that? It looks so weird!” I was confused! I was embarrassed. I ran out of the classroom and straight to the restroom. When I got there to my horror, my “beautiful” silky pressed hair had reverted back to its natural afro by way of humidity! I didn’t yet understand  that my hairs texture was not conditioned to stay in its silky state.  I had never noticed before the immense difference between my hair and the rest of the girls in my class, and the fact that my peers first reaction to my hair was “Eww” really hurt me!

I ran to my cousins class ( she was a few years older than me) and begged her to put my hair back in a ponytail. But we were kids whose moms still did our hair, so we had no idea what we were doing! Needless to say,I didn’t look like a child who’s parents even glanced at them before they walked out the door.

Finally, recess came. Outside we went…. and then something happened that really put the nail in the coffin of this awful day… and probably solidified my understanding that I was different.. and that people are going to judge me because of that.  We were playing races. I was naturally fast , so I easily beat this one boy. I ran and gave my friends high fives and then the boy that I beat turns to me and says, ” You’re so ugly and your hair is ugly. You like poo!” Go back to Africa!

I stared at him and burst into tears and ran into the bathroom and hid. I stayed there for the rest of recess and pondered what he had said. Was I really ugly? Was my hair ugly too? How could I go back to Africa, when I had never been there in the first place?

Naturally, I was glum for the rest of the day. I had completely forgotten about my hair until my mom came home and saw my head and said, “What happened to your hair???!” ( she was not pleased) So I had to tell her my whole days ordeal. She looked at me and said, “Well Sophie, remember you’re black. You’re not like them and every opportunity they get , they are going to remind you of that.” So off to the bathroom we went, where she re-washed and styled my hair and  I never did that again.

When I got older and got my hair relaxed, I enjoyed the easiness of “wash day” but relaxed hair was never really for me. That’s why in 2007 after being a bridesmaid in my god brothers wedding and having my hair gelled up and slicked for an updo, I washed all that gunk out of my hair.. grabbed a pair of scissors… and cut it all off! I called my girl and she hooked me up with some braids, and I never relaxed my hair again! Almost ten years no relaxer! Best decision ever. Now don’t get me wrong, when it comes to hair care I AM LAZY! I hate washing it .I hate taking care of it, so weave and wigs and braids are right up my alley. But don’t get it twisted ! I love my natural hair  that God blessed me with and I don’t think I would ever relax it again!

Now my mom always instilled in me that I was black and that I was to be black and proud! Never let any one of any race or culture make me feel like I was less than!  She always taught me that my black is beautiful and that I am perfect just the way God made me. I wish more young black girls had strong examples in their lives, that encourage them to love the skin they’re in and embrace their melanin! 🙂  Sadly, many young girls live a world where they have been taught ( or forced) to feel less than beautiful… less than powerful.. less than important… less than valuable!

I want every black young lady ( and gentlemen) to know that YOU ARE IMPORTANT!  YOU MATTER! BE PROUD OF WHO YOU ARE!!

Psalms 139:13-14 says: For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 

God makes no mistakes! You are you for a reason, for a purpose!

You’re fearfully and wonderfully made so be black and be proud!

I think the amazing James brown said it best 🙂  ( take a listen)

Have an amazing Monday!

xoxo

ps check out other stories like mine here:

Selma Is Now….

Selma Is Now….

Yesterday I watched the Oscars….they were super boring to me this year. I love Neil Patrick Harris, however I find his Oscar hosting performance to have fallen lackluster. It was very ” How I Met Your Mother”. Don’t get me wrong I loved that show,I just don’t know if that time of humour really resonated with the caliber of the Oscar crowd.

Let’s briefly talk about the fashion. There were some beautiful pieces, but there wasn’t anything that really blew me away. However these three dress caught my attention on the red carpet. Nothing phenomenal, but nevertheless three dresses that I would definitely wear.

emma
Emma Stone is wearing Elie Saab.
gwyneth
Gwyneth Paltrow is wearing Ralph & Russo Couture
reese
Reese Witherspoon is wearing Tom Ford.

The glitz and the glamour of the Oscars are always fun to watch, but this year all of that was overshadowed by a single performance. John Legend and Common’s rendition of their Oscar-winning Song of the Year “Glory”, moved the entire auditorium ( and myself!) to tears and leaping to their feet. Check  out the lyrics to the song and watch the performance here:

One day when the glory comes

It will be ours, it will be ours

One day when the war is won

We will be sure, we will be sure
Oh glory

Hands to the Heavens, no man, no weapon
Formed against, yes glory is destined
Every day women and men become legends
Sins that go against our skin become blessings
The movement is a rhythm to us
Freedom is like religion to us
Justice is juxtapositionin’ us
Justice for all just ain’t specific enough
One son died, his spirit is revisitin’ us
Truant livin’ livin’ in us, resistance is us
That’s why Rosa sat on the bus
That’s why we walk through Ferguson with our hands up
When it go down we woman and man up
They say, “Stay down”, and we stand up
Shots, we on the ground, the camera panned up
King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up

Now the war is not over, victory isn’t won
And we’ll fight on to the finish, then when it’s all done
We’ll cry glory, oh glory
We’ll cry glory, oh glory

Selma is now for every man, woman and child
Even Jesus got his crown in front of a crowd
They marched with the torch, we gon’ run with it now
Never look back, we done gone hundreds of miles
From dark roads he rose, to become a hero
Facin’ the league of justice, his power was the people
Enemy is lethal, a king became regal
Saw the face of Jim Crow under a bald eagle
The biggest weapon is to stay peaceful
We sing, our music is the cuts that we bleed through
Somewhere in the dream we had an epiphany
Now we right the wrongs in history
No one can win the war individually
It takes the wisdom of the elders and young people’s energy
Welcome to the story we call victory
Comin’ of the Lord, my eyes have seen the glory

I bawled like a big ol’ baby when I saw that performance and I continued to bawl when they won their Oscar and John delivered these words in their acceptance speech:

“Selma is now,” Legend began. “The struggle for justice is now. The Voting Rights Act that they fought for fifty years ago is being compromised right now in this country today. Right now the struggle for justice is real. We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850. When people march with our song, we want to tell you: we see you, we are with you, we love you, and march on.”

He’s right.  50 years after that monumental march,people are being persecuted and targeted  everyday because of the colour of their skin. Not only the colour of their skin but their gender, religion and class or status. If we look at it, not that much has changed in 50 years… sad but true. Yes, we are no longer physical slaves, but we have now become slaves to our minds, slaves to society and slaves to ourselves.

We owe it to Dr King to take up the mantle and continue the fight for justice. Not only for ourselves, but for the generations to come. Let’s not let his ( and the work of countless others) go in vain… Selma is now! March on!

xoxo