In 2020, whilst body shapes, image and individualism is more free and beyond societal spectrums, there are still issues that many of us face when it comes to acceptance and allowing ourselves to be true to us. Being a big, black girl is still an issue for me and many other girls, and in a year that we can safely define as tumultuous, the world hating black girls is more apparent than we wanted to admit.
When growing up, most black girls were told by their mothers or a close family member, that we would have to fight harder than most, to even have a say. Whether in school, discussions, employment, language, culture and even our health, we would have to struggle the most. I never understood why, until I summarised it as this - because I am a female - a black female, the world does not have a space for me and my fellow people. I was born in a skin colour, an ethnic background, and a culture whilst so amazing, vibrant and multi-dimensional, it is painful as the world does not embrace it. Furthermore, me and many other black females were told that life is already hard, meaning we really could not be any more different, even if we had wanted to.
Upon reflection, I can only imagine what a young black person who knew they were different to what their parents needed in their child and what society said about us, which made us go into a shell. Whilst everyone else may have also been changing, growing and adapting, people like me had to mould into what was the best for our family and the world, which most times, would still not work in our favour, because we did not even have tickets to spectate, let alone a seat at the table. When I think of a young Trina, before being diagnosed officially, being a quiet, timid and a chubby 10 year old, then being told that being quiet, minding your business and being a child will be a detriment when I am older, has been quite painful to process being 22 now. There are black people who dream, and even though we still do now, when we were younger, the bubble was popped so quickly, because if it did not involve finance, medicine or something corporate, why would you waste their indefinite leave to remain status for a "dream". On the other hand, reading a quote some time ago saying whilst it can be hard to see why our parents acted this way, they faced their own traumas and standards that date back generations, so it is all they know, even by living in a new country with their own rules. Even though I can empathise, it still does cause me some distress that most of us black people have. Even now, some still find it hard to move on from the pain of being shut down, sent away from our true selves, because it was not the fit they wanted.
Being a black girl felt so heavy because from a young age, I only saw how I needed to be clean, submissive and be able to cook and
be desirable as a young woman, with the double standard of a connotation of not dressing in a suggestive way around male family members, which school did not help in this. We could not have hairstyles or symbolic expressions of our culture, as it was distracting and yet, we had the excuse of an assembly and quiz that represented Black History (I said what I said). To raise a point, or clarify details when we want to clear our name or just settle a disagreement is defined as aggressive, and hearing boys say that they could not date a black girl because we are "too much". What is too much for you boys? The fact that we have a clear identity? That we are firm, wonderful and expressive people? But when younger, we did not think of these things. I personally thought, I couldn't even probably enjoy the Ghanaian food that I love, express myself in the way I wanted to and will probably always be misunderstood because of my skin colour ... it didn't help that at the time, I was already a size 12 by year 10.
Imagine growing up, where standards are set, the world profiting off my culture and its history, but to freely enjoy it and show it off proudly was a problem. Being a black female, standing up for yourself was an issue, but so was minding your business and enjoying reading, reading anime, writing stories because you were different. So at times I found myself screaming at the world, in my teenage years that were already very overwhelming, well damn, what do you want from me? Who do you want me to be? The thing I can laugh at was the fact that I am sure that many black girls, particularly those of a fuller figure, were asked if they were a good singer. Being a black girl when growing up to find myself was built from ignorance, stereotypes and insecurities from the world that were intimidated by us. The amount of times people were sure that I was angry and an awful person, due to my size and facial expressions when really I had a resting bitch face because I just do not like you - you give me bad vibes. My anxiety that would make me lapse in memory, judgements and give me panic attacks was actually my gut signalling to me that I do not need your energy and your foolishness around me - my instinct perhaps is my anxiety screaming at me to listen more often.
Moreover, speaking of anxiety, being a fuller girl compared to other female family members around your age was basically illegal, and it would turn into the aunties actually not giving you a lot of food in your plate because "you don't need anymore than what you are already eating". I am already undesirable in all aspects of life and society, yet my cultural background affirms this because of my body shape and appearance. Having stretchmarks at an early age, having a fuller chest was bad and I had to hide it from leering eyes - actually no, it's because you know men are disgusting but you would rather blame the girl, and wearing things my size would accentuate all the "bad" parts of my body. Could you see why growing up would be difficult for a sis?
Fast forward to 2020, black people have been forced to face a number of traumas, pain and subject to reading and viewing such horrible things, where most can say "I can't believe this, This is not right, and oh this is the corker This should not be happening in 2020". This is my reality - my younger brother going out where its rainy and windy and he's being stopped by community police officers because of his hood being up, school rules still stating that "eXtEreMe HaIrsTyLeS" are subject to sanctions, whereas our white counterparts dye their hair bright blues, pinks and reds, and we don’t hear absolute pim (quiet for those who may not know the term).Where this year has had 350 LGBT+ deaths - many of who were black, hate crimes have heavily increased, where that excuse of an American president has just executed Brandon Bernard - who was a black man worthy of redemption, as part of a fast track killing spree before coming out of office, there is still no justice for Breonna Taylor, the systems and prejudices would rather villainise a black individual to excuse the treatment given towards them, Darnella Frazier was sent death threats and attacked for filming the murder of George Floyd - in other words, providing evidence of a crime, which again has favoured the white man who committed the crime. We see families bribe and pay their children into the best schools and privileged societies, able to smoke weed with no conviction, but the average black person is sentenced to a minimum of five years for being in possession of it.
Additionally, only 5.7% black people are in managerial positions, rates of prosecution and sentencing are three times higher for Black people, the mortality of Black pregnant women is four times higher than the white woman, there is a significant disproportion of black history and events being taught in schools, and in creative industries such as makeup and clothing - need I go on? I do, because black people need to send 90% more job applications than White Britons, and when we do have jobs, we are apparently taking all the jobs and need to go back to where we belong. Do we really when a large percentage of Black women work for the NHS and that is in ALL parts of the NHS.
It is the fatphobia of Black women for me, because we cannot be free in ourselves and spirit without it being such a concern. Like Lizzo has said, why are we amazing and brave when we just showing our bodies? The average size in a female is a size 16, yet clothing retailers still cannot add a plus size body on a web page to allow us to see what a clothing item would look like on our bodies. Bigger girls are villainised for purchasing fast fashion, when really, there has been no research and development, nor any sustainable friendly brands that cater to plus size girls- even these brands now do not get our bra sizes correctly let alone a t-shirt. It is much more apparent in society and social media compared to other ethnic backgrounds that being ourselves, embracing our culture, and when celebrating, it is because we are being brave.
I am NOT STRONG - I am individual part of a generational link, that wants to change the world, whilst fighting the standards and generational standards we face at home. To change a world that is so catered to white privilege, we wonder if it can even be done. Yes, there are people taking notice, but our concepts, music, food, and inventions are being copied or taking recognition from and yet we are ungrateful or we "can't read the room"? We have just about been let into the room and it is still scary, because we don't know if we will be answered, or have the door slammed in our face as soon as our foot is even placed in. So forgive me and others who are hurt, frustrated and tired - it is because we do not have faith. The worst thing in all of this, is that black people and females especially have to see this and try to hold optimism, make their reality greater than all the hurt faced from before, and be the baddest bitch following it. So no, I am not strong, I am a human, i deserve to treated as such, I deserve to not be scared about being pregnant, about seeing male family members leaving the house, unlocking my phone and wondering what traumatic video being shared will be sent around, and even just speaking my mind in places. I am tired. We are tired. We should not have to always keep it together and hold up the glass ceiling that is almost unreachable at times - so read this, read it again if you are not black and try to envision it. You cannot, can you? Therefore please, don't try to understand and be with us, help shake the tables, don't keep quiet in injustices, be uncomfortable, because we have had to be from the moment we were born.
My identity right now? questionable in subject to finding myself, however what I do know is that I am a big, black woman, and there are millions more of me around the world, we are just in different tones, sizes and faces. But we are not going anywhere - the shackles that society want to keep on our feet is what we gonna use to keep stepping on your necks, respectfully.