Self-Acceptance is Radical for Black Women
And it can take time to achieve it
Today I’d like to talk about the radical idea of accepting yourself as a Black woman. It takes work, because the world often tells us there’s something wrong with us. While I’d like to think that is changing, just look at the comments that people like Serena Williams get - the hatred and vitriol simply for excelling and being unapologetic.
As women, we’re often socialised to avoid taking up space and to be ashamed of the things that make us us. As Black women, even more so. Our hair, our clothing, our “attitude” all seem to be up for question, usually by those who feel we are “too” something (though perhaps they should really look at the fear inside them that’s driving their criticism of us.)
I’ve mentioned it before, but one of the earliest criticisms I remember was from the nun running the school I attended who thought that my exuberant 70s afro was just too much. Luckily, my parents didn’t allow her opinion to stand.
Not long after that, I remember unflattering comparisons with my lighter skinned sister. It seemed one could either be pretty or clever, not both. We both hated that attempt to divide us.
There’s also the issue of visibility - or lack of it. Growing up, it was rare to see myself represented in the fashion mags - on the rare occasions where there were Black models and actors it was big news. White people take that kind of visibility and representation for granted, and while there are issues with the kinds of representation that’s common, think about not seeing yourself at all. How does that help you accept yourself?