Letters to the Editor

Growing up black in America

 I will never forget the moment in kindergarten when I went to my mom to tell her that I was part of two underdog groups. I went to her and said “Momma, I’m part of two least-liked groups: I’m black and I’m a girl.” My mom had to explain to me that the word I should have used was “minority.”  I had said “least-liked” proudly, not knowing that the word was directly affiliated with me being somehow lesser of a person because I was a black girl. The fact that I was 4 years old and already conditioned to see myself in a negative light tells you all you need to know about growing up black in America.

 In the first grade, I met someone I thought was the coolest person in the world. We hung out on the playground for the first week of school and became inseparable. We were the best of friends. One day, she came to school and told me that we couldn’t be friends anymore because her father doesn’t like black people. I initially didn’t take this as an insult, but when I later went to my mom about it, I realized the gravity of what was said. The fact that I was six years old and had to hear that I wasn’t a worthy person because of my skin color tells you all you need to know about growing up black in America.

For the first 10 years of my life, I can truly say that society made me feel like I was never good enough. Simple things like seeing my private school teacher provide girls with combs to fix their hair (knowing I was the only one that couldn’t use one) would make me sad. I felt like I was an outcast in every aspect of my life. The fact that I was eight years old trying to physically scrub the blackness of my skin hoping to become lighter tells you all you need to know about growing up black in America.

Through all the previous experiences (only a select few from my life), one would assume that people could understand the trauma that I’ve experienced as a young black girl in America. But no. Every day I see those same things (my hair, my skin, my culture) being taken for granted and only celebrated when it belongs to people who don’t look like me. The very same things that I hated about myself as a child are being seen as trends throughout the world right now. But only for non-black people.

To every white person reading this right now: I hope you find the strength within yourself to realize the gifts that God has blessed you with. I pray that you use your societal advantages to make way for others and uplift people instead of tearing them down. As a collective society, black people have experienced so much trauma. To those of you who still somehow can’t realize that, I pray God heals your soul and allows you to let go of whatever hate is poisoning you.

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