The journey of my identity as a young Black woman is premised on having lived a predominant proportion of my life in a Caucasian, Conservative, small town in Lincolnshire. The consequence of this for me, personally, led to a loss in translation between me, myself and I and the perception of how I viewed my beauty in comparison to my skinny white blonde friends. There were times when I would question if I’m pretty; question why the white boys don’t rate me; times I desperately wanted to bleach my skin; times which when thought about now, sadden me to think that these thoughts played a heavy role in my inner dialogue.
My confidence during my adolescent years often fluctuated. I would go to school with newly braided hair which had me questioning why I ever thought I was ugly, but the question was soon to be answered by white boys comparing me to Black footballers. Another time I went to a party looking cute as hell and ended up not feeling so cute after some white boys told me that I was ‘too black’ for any boys to want to get with me. At the time, I didn’t really stick up for myself the way I wish I should have but those experiences were really focal in my character building and have aided me in being unapologetically Black and being unapologetically myself.
The journey of my identity did not really start until I went to university and met other Black people and was in and amongst Black spaces. Before then, I felt as though I used to really suppress who I was to avoid a can of worms. The can of worms being friends questioning my personality, questioning my dialogue, and ultimately questioning me as an individual. I truly never really felt like I could be myself around my friends because it often felt like they didn’t ‘get me’. Once I left Caucasian city, it really was a whole new world for me. Black faces everywhere. Black boys giving me attention. I didn’t need to travel 30 minutes to get to the hair shop. A whole new world. On top of all these new revelations, I really came into my identity as a young Black woman.
My journey of self-love really stemmed from being around other Black girls who didn’t question who I am and once I started being unapologetically myself, my confidence reached a new peak. I was really surprised at what I had been suppressing all this time and was finding and learning new things about myself. Ultimately, my mum and sister are partially responsible for my journey into my self-love. They’ve always and still do encourage me to do things for myself because at the end of the day, you are really all you have.
That being said, I am unapologetically Black, and I am unapologetically Lindiwe. You have to love yourself before you other people can love you.