I recall so many moments in my adolescence sitting blankly in front of the mirror as my eyes drifted to the poof of curly hair atop my head. The reflective glass wrapped around me like shackles; I was imprisoned by shame destroyed by the idea that my natural was not good enough. I’d stare with angst at the tv screen the beautiful women in the magazines my own mother long, straight blonde hair blue eyed and I’d wonder who am I? Blue contacts concealed the brown blackness of my eyes for awhile although the brown halos shone like the insides of trees I was shrouding the wisdom of my families past, purposely.
My experience of blackness in a sea of whiteness sometimes left me feeling broken and distressed and wondering What should I do with this hair? Somehow the weight of the world that surrounded me as I struggled to sift and sort for my own identity had bore all of its weight atop my head. The contradictions, the confusion, the feeling of being displaced; for some reason I believed reconciliation lived somewhere in the soft flowing creases of my curly hair.
And so I tore at my texture
digging for answers with hot iron presses and burning hot air that singed my scalp and I’d panic at the first sight of sweat moistening my hairline. I knew it wasn’t the form this mane was growing to be I was a fake, masquerading I didn’t want anyone to see something different. something odd a disturbing form of unique that I believed it to be. So clearly I thought I had to have it straight so it’d help me find my place. But it never did. “Can I touch it?” They’d ask with arms outstretched before I could tell them NO, or yes, or maybe? Would it make you see me as more complete as something a little less “exotic” if I allowed you to bury your hands in my hair? to pet me as though I was some awe-inspiring creature?
Well I am.
I did not recognize the power that gave me how beautiful it was that when people looked my way they knew,
almost immediately, who I was and where I fit in. At least in terms of demographics; I could have been proud. to stand hand in hand with the sometimes shrouded magic that is Blackness. Yet because of the way society had shaped us all to be I somehow found that fact to be daunting. I wanted to hide.
It took some time to recognize this truth to realize not only my hair but the shape of my nose, my lips, the tone of my skin; tells a story. The little girl hidden beneath the clouds I forgive her for not recognizing it earlier. How could I have found my truth when I looked at the faces around me I did not see myself fully, wholly I saw myself as fragmented literally living in the extremes of black and white.
The mixture of DNA the different colored faces in my family;
it did not feel, at the time, like a blessing. Mismatched culture, a lack of understanding, trying to blend in when so clearly I stood out
and it’s not so bad, anymore, I think. I think now, in that recognition I am free.
As I embrace the wildness that flows through my veins
a thick, sweet blood like elixir nourishing rich, black, soil.
My ancestry has reminded me of the weight carried on the shoulders of blackness. I rejoice now in the obvious - I am a black woman. Assimilation escapes me now as I recognize strength, resilience, the power that resides inside of me.
I strive to embody what it looks like to be blessed to be powerful and strong and the facets of me are cut and sometimes they look broken and sometimes they shine brightly like basalt birthed from the core of Mother Earth. I am proud I am mixed I am black And I am choosing,