"Yes, at times I feel judged by African-American women who choose to wear weaves or wigs with long straight hair and by women with naturally straight hair who are Caucasian."
"Strong, Resilient, Adaptive."
"Even though I do not wear a hijab, I do not volunteer information about my religion and about being muslim, unless directly asked."
"Sometimes yes, I do. I am a very humble person and I hate the feeling I get when I tell people what institution I attended or where I work because I feel as though they automatically form some sort of opinion about me that is untrue...if people ask me what I do, I simply say 'Oh, I work for a media company' just keep it as vague as possible as to not make it seem like I have a fancy job in the city."
"Yes, I lived in a predominately West Indian area and I've had someone refer to me as a coconut for living there. I did not find it funny at all."
"Amongst many other stereotypes I feel like we're expected to have an attitude. Sometimes when speaking to people of other races they would say something funny, and roll their eyes and snap their fingers for added effect. I never do this."
"Yes, at a fancy gym in lower Manhattan. There wasn't many black females that look like me in that gym, it was intimidating to be around so many fit and skinny white women staring and judging me. So I cancelled my membership."
"Absolutely. I tend to hear that I'm 'articulate' after meeting people, which I usually take to mean more articulate than they expected me to be. An old boss called me 'a rare bird' for being a woman of color who enjoys fishing with my family and watching Games of Thrones."
"Yes. When I was working in the 80's a few of my co-workers always seemed to have a jealous streak because of my husband's high-ranked job and the job that I had. We were a black family that were doing well financially."
"No, not at all. If I am good at something I let everyone know it. I can't afford to be modest. You have to be your own best advocate."
"Absolutely! I was the only black females in my middle school, one of ten in my high school, the only one in my college group of friends, and the only one in my entire company."
"I work in the mental health field. If I come in contact with another female they expect me to understand where they are coming from. In society, some expect a black woman to speak like 'a black woman' and perhaps not be educated...to be intimidated by others and their positions and roles."
"Sometimes I am asked by other African-American women why I choose to still perm my hair. While natural hair is not my style, I do know that chemicals are not good for my hair."
"Yes, I have been accused of being 'bougie' because of living in upper class neighborhoods or buildings. The flip side of that is my white neighbors look at me like I must be lost when I enter a building or when they see me in the neighborhood."
"Yes, at my job. I still went, but I felt like I had to tone down who I was to be accepted."
"My biggest achievement to date is not labeling myself. I used to think 'I'll look too white if I do that' or 'Am I being the token black person?' I've come to a point where my personality is solely my own."
"Will not stop."
"I often feel judged for how I wear my hair and although not in open, direct ways, I feel that tension coming from other black girls my age. I feel this because I hear them criticize other girls' hairstyles, so what are they saying about me when I'm not around? I don't wear weaves or straighten my hair as often as other black girls my age, so I think there has definitely been issues with that."
"EMBRACE EACH OTHER!! Please. Try not to soak up so much information that you drown out the substance of what people before you did in order for your to be as free as you are today. Also try to preserve your family history, if that means saving old pictures or even recipes. Our grandparents went through way too much and overcame too much for us to just let technology take over. Deprogram."
"Yes, I lived in a neighborhood that I had to answer the question of why I don't want to live around people like me."
“When I'm around other black people, sometimes I don't like to talk too much, or open up about my childhood experiences and college life because I've been shamed in the past. I did not grow up wealthy, by any means, but my parents still made sure I had rich experiences. I learned oil painting at a pretty young age, and traveled with my mom and aunt to Europe when I was 11 and 12. I went to a diverse LA magnet school, then public schools in the Beverly Hills school district where I learned to speak French and play the tenor saxophone.
On the inside, I feel extremely blessed and know that everything about my upbringing and past experiences is so special and I'm grateful to my family, especially my mom, for supporting me through it all. Because of all that, I should want to shout that story from the mountaintops, BUT on the surface, I prefer to keep quiet unless I'm at a job interview, or if someone close to me asks about any of it. .Along the way, there have been several Black people who have made fun of me for ‘growing up in Beverly Hills.’ They are very condescending about it, as if I don't really know what it means to be Black because I've lived some sort of watered down version of it, instead of just calling my experience 'different' from their own. People may not be aware of this, but being a Black girl in a sea of white students has its own challenges. Black people have also, since I was maybe 5 or 6, made fun of me for "talking like a white girl." That used to really hurt and sounded like nails on a chalkboard, but now, as a professional, it bothers me a little less because I know that it actually means I just don't have a distinct accent and no one can really tell what ethnicity I am until they meet me in person, which I think is honestly how it should be."
"Becoming board certified in Emergency Medicine."
"I experience (or perceive) less judgement now as woman who chooses to shave her head than I did during certain periods of my youth when I had hair. I am approached by different people of different backgrounds and ages with curiosity and appreciation. It has surprised me to receive more positive attention, especially from black people--I had a belief that they especially would respond more negatively or with more ridicule in light of the weight hair has been given in our community."
"Yes, usually in dating situations I don't tell men that I am a doctor unless asked explicitly. I generally say that I work in a hospital and just hope they don't inquire much. I have found that men make a lot of assumptions about character, 'need for a man', and competitiveness, based on a job title."
"Freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman."
"My freshman year in college, my mother was not fond of my black boyfriend at the time. Funny thing is that I'm Afro Cuban, meaning both of my parents are Cuban but my mother is of darker skin (African ancestors). She always said date someone lighter than you. So behind her back I continued to date him for 2 years."
"I've done some out of the box things for fun, and to push my own limits of comfort (including amateur modeling). Most of the time, I keep it under wraps inside my close knit circle, until I get a text or screenshot saying, 'Is this YOU?!'"
"Learn deductive reasoning. Don't just take things at face value and allow the media or someone else's opinions to drive your decisions or thoughts. Do your own dirty work so you can be firm in your beliefs and know that they are yours. Take responsibility for your actions and grow and learn everyday."
"Well I currently live in a conscious community housing set up in Venice (LA) with about 6 people and I'm the only Black women in the collective so often times a lot of my peers ask me questions about my experience and say they don't know how I do it. Sometimes I walk in the house to conversations about race and oneness and I often have to help my housemates see things from my perspective being African American. Although their intention is to be love and light I feel it's my duty to bring awareness to them of what we go through as black people and why advocating for our rights is so important."
"There are so so many ... and it depends on the scenario - work, education, relationships, family etc. ...here's one from the long list. I think there's a general expectation that we must be strong, independent and can get through anything. While that's positive, it's a lot pressure and can be isolating when you actually do need some support and are overlooked."
"Yes, we live in an upper middle class community where we are part of the very few black families in our town. We do get judged on both sides, for example the black communities they say things like 'you think you are better than us?' and 'they are so fancy.' On the other side, with the caucasian community in our town they are so surprised that we are a normal family and are highly educated, successful people; however, to some that doesn’t matter they just don't speak to us."
"Most definitely. I started a PhD program in Sociology and discovered almost immediately that I was in the wrong place given my passions and professional interests, so I decided that Public Health was a better fit for my graduate studies. To make the switch, I had to revoke a 5-year full ride scholarship and give up my ideal apartment to move back home to save money. To say they were highly disappointed would be an understatement. They didn't know what public health was and were concerned that I wasn't making the right decision. Following their expectations for me and what I thought would make me happy is how I landed in the wrong program in the first place. Over time, they definitely came around, but much of my indecision and educational pursuits thus far had followed their expectations for me."
"I always still go. I love to travel and I'm interested in a lot of different places. If I stopped myself for being the only black female I know in a place, honestly I wouldn't have shown up for much of the life I've had. I don't worry about such things that much, but I do think about them. Usually just being a woman in a place is something I'm thinking about. Whatever people think about me based on my coloring is typically 99% wrong (this is verified from personal experience), so honestly I don't even consider such opinions as relevant. That has freed up a lot of my subconscious and actions."
"Learn what it means to be self-aware. Self-awareness helps you be honest with your feelings."
"YES. The stereotypes and assumptions weight heavy on me. I have definitely gotten comments like, 'You are much different then I thought.' or 'You have changed my view on Black Women.' I never know what to say to these backwards compliments. They are so wrong in so many ways."
"There have been times where I've been judged by my own people when it comes to my hair. Questioning of why I straighten my hair when I don't need to. Then on the other end, when I have worn scarves it's been a topic of not being presentable."
"Nope. I have dated several times outside of my race, religion, and nationality and haven't hid it from my family or friends. My family met the ones I became serious with and interacted often with them for gatherings, holidays, casual visits, and even hanging out in my absence. As long as I was being treated well my family was supportive."
"Yes, I have been judged by how I talk within the African-American community. I have been accused of speaking 'too proper.'"
"Yes. I once dated a guy that was Hasidic Jewish. It was a very secretive relationship. Obviously. When his sisters found out they told their mom and said, 'what will people think of us! Driving with that girl in our car.' The relationship ended very soon after that."
"Yes! Because of the environment I grew up in, I'm used to being the only black person in a given situation, but the few times I can think of when I've been uncomfortable being the only black female, or black person, is in a situation that's very foreign to me and where I may have preconceived notions that the people I'll be surrounded by will absolutely be aggressively racist. A great example: I went to an AC/DC concert at the Meadowlands last year and I was very nervous about going - I wasn't so sure what the fan base was like, but I had a feeling the fandom might be aggressive. Well, to my pleasant surprise, there was more diversity than I'd anticipated and it seemed a fun time was had by all! I was alone at this show and took the bus back to New York City. When I got off the bus at Port Authority, a large white man got out, stared and pointed at me and said, to no one in particular: 'Wow! A sister at an AC/DC concert! That's like seeing a black woman at a Grateful Dead Show! But then again... I guess the mayor's (de Blasio) daughter is a metal head!' I just walked away in shock. As benign as he thought it was, it was clearly disturbing to me and made me feel exposed and a little unsafe. That being said, I had dreaded much worse. I hate to call it lucky? I'd call it a reminder that despite the fact that the concert was fine and fun, I was still the outsider."
"I do think I am looked at with less authority at times because of the industry I work in and also working in the South, which is very conservative. Unfortunately there are not many black physicians in the hospital I work at and black female physicians here do not wear their hair natural. The one time I did, I felt looked at more frequently than typical and further mistaken for other medical personnel."
"I wouldn't say I've worried, but I've been consciously aware. I spent the last two years of high school and all of college usually being the only, or one of very few, black people in a class or gathering. Yes, I still went. I'm comfortable in any surrounding."
"An honor, sacred, and challenging"
"Yes. While I don't put chemicals in my hair I do wear straightened 95% of the time because of the amount of hair that I have it is easier for me to maintain it in that state. I sometimes, feel judged by other black women for not wearing my hair in its natural curly state. On the other hand, I also have felt judged by my white co-workers during the rare occasion that I do have my hair in it's naturally curly state or even just different from how I would normally wear it."
"Yes, in dating men, I often find myself downplaying that I am a doctor. I have spent more than half my life achieving this goal and have sacrificed time,relationships, and other dreams for it, yet, I often try to water it down or vaguely state it when I am meeting and dating men. For male physicians, this would likely be the first thing out of their mouth when meeting a woman. For female doctors and meeting men, I feel like it is the exact opposite."
"Absolutely. We are expected to be strong, yet silent. In my adult life, I have grappled with that paradigm. The world understands the strength of a black woman, however, when we speak about our lived experiences, we are judged. Acknowledgement is by far the hardest pill for many to swallow."
"My daughter. I've also had three poems published, acted on an off off broadway at La MaMa Experimental Theatre in NYC and abroad at La MaMa Umbria (Italy), and starred in a few small films and shorts. Currently I am producing a documentary on Haitian Art. I have also been the associate director of Street Poets Inc. for the past 9 years."
"Yes and no. In some ways I feel like I can't move out of this house (not that I can afford to yet) because of the fear of my mother and other family being dependent on my share of the mortgage/rent. I am hoping that some things we have lined up will ease the financial burden and that I can eventually spread my wings either out of state or on my own--no short of a miracle in NYC."
"In the military there is always judgment. It started while I was in officer training school and was starting to grow my locs again. This white male told me like three times to 'fix' my hair. After a few more comments, I just took them out since it made me a bit self conscious. Usually judgment is by men - its a man's military."
"Something I’m proud to see in my generation that wasn’t as prevalent with my older siblings and cousins is the acknowledgement and deliberate creation of intersectional spaces and movements for black and brown people. Uplifting people of color who hold their queer, trans, nonbinary, disability, neurodivergent, or otherwise nonconforming identities as integral to their person is necessary for accepting the full scope of blackness. Loving each other is vital to loving ourselves."
"Yes I do. I have naturally curly big hair. However I have only been wearing it in it’s natural state for the last 2 or so years. I worked in very corporate environment for 13yrs and every time I would wear my hair 'natural' curly, I would get less respect, a lot of questions like 'Oh what did you do to your hair?' In my head, I’m like nothing! When it’s straight that is when I 'do something' to my hair."
"Skin tone specifically? Not really but generally speaking, I'm very conscious of the fact that I am a black woman. I am conscious of it everyday. Whether it's a conversation, a situation, or piece of content that I'm consuming. My purview as as a black woman is constant, albeit not always in a negative way."
"I would have to say Shonda Rhimes."
"Yes, I believe there are many expectations of being a black female. They come from both sides - white people and people of color. For example, there are expectations of how a black female should behave in certain contexts or what she should be good at based on assumptions that are made about where she is from or what her life experiences are."
"Surely, although I don't catalog these experiences. I have many interests in line with what is perceived as only interesting to white america, so I take pride in explaining or lecturing when someone has that misconception about me. Basically, that being black has nothing to do with what music, what art I admire, or how I i choose to decorate and clothe myself."
"From some family members, yes, because I was the only one to go to college on my dads side of the family, and my mom and I are the only ones on her side of the family. So with most of my family working city jobs or not having higher education, many times I do cut down on talking about my achievements. But from my close friends? Absolutely not, lol most of them are doing better than me!"
"I have been judged for where I live. I have gotten judged by other black people for living in the suburbs."
"I don't like to brag unless it is in the right environment. However, I don't ever feel as though I have to hide my achievements."
"Any racism that I've ever felt in the dating world came from black men in the form of anti-blackness. In the past, they have been very vocal about their preferences for mixed race or non-black women."
"Be strong, be confident, be courageous, be resilient. The system was not designed to help or advance you but through perseverance and determination you can make it and thrive!"
"I think it depends on your circle and what you ascribe to. At my job, I would say no. With my sorority, I would say yes. With my family, I would say yes. In general society, I would say no. In black society, I would say yes."
"Sure. People (mostly Rastafarians) have referred to me as a Rasta because I have locs, which is fine, but incorrect. This doesn't bother me. My worst memory was when I had an afro and riding on the bus. Two older black women were shaking there heads at me and commenting on my 'slave hairstyle'. I was shocked and sad for them."
"Of course. I've dated guys who told me I was 'the darkest girl they've ever dated' and heard expressions like 'she's cute for a dark skinned girl.' It was always hard for me to reconcile because I never experienced any dating challenges or rejection because of my skin tone and was never made to feel less than by my family or core support system. I guess some guys just have internal turmoil that they have to express."
"Yes, sometimes, mostly when I was younger. I've always been quite well spoken, which some felt encroached on my 'blackness'. Whenever I used to try to drop my 't's for instance my mum used to get annoyed at my trying to conform, she wasn't having any of it. It also wasn't a good look seeing how my name has two hard 't's. As I grew older however, I became acutely aware of the power of speech, so being judged for how I speak and not what I was saying became a non issue for me."
"Not at all. To hide the achievements that I worked so hard to achieve, is like being ashamed of them, or feeling guilty for accomplishing them, or running from happiness. Sharing achievements can offer inspiration, or motivation to someone who may be stuck."
"I did. I had a hard time identifying myself being that I was mixed with black and Hispanic but only grew up with my Hispanic mother. The blacks girls didn't like me because I was light skinned yet I was still called the n word...It was very confusing for me. So up until I was about 20 yrs old I was self-conscious about my skin tone."
"Go to school , stay in school, be inquisitive, let your curiosity be followed with questions and keep learning. Be humble enough to know that you don’t know everything but proud enough to speak up when you do know something. Your voice is important and no one should stifle it. Pay attention to politics and register to vote because you can really make a difference- but that can only happen if you learning and listening. Therefore keep learning!"
"The advice that I would give my 12 year-old self would be twofold:
1. Know that with God all things are possible and that he ALWAYS has my back because he does not
2. To know that I am a diamond in the rough.
Diamonds are created from carbon dioxide (the product to be) that exists deep within the earth (family/biological/adopted/etc) under the most extreme pressure (society/puberty). The more intense the pressure/heat (racism, being an African American female, colorism, negativity, low self-esteem, shaping of my future, etc.) the more beautiful the diamond.
No one wants to endure the heat, but everyone admires the prettiest diamond. So, I'd tell my 12 year-old self to endure the process as that is what makes one formidable. Being formidable creates vision, vision wins battles, winning battles and vision create success."
"Ugh, yes. When I started getting my college acceptance letters back--I got a full scholarship to a school in Colorado, and their student body breakdown by ethnicity didn't include any black women. So, I chose not to go. I felt okay with my decision. I knew that college was going to be a huge step and I didn't want to be responsible for being a voice for people of color. I had 13 college offers in total, so I had other choices--and I really wanted to be in New York City. I did get a full-ride to my final decision, but it wasn't without me making a request."
"You have one job to do at this stage of your life - dream. Dream big. Dream of all the things you want to achieve. Dream about all of the places you want to travel to. Dream about the impact you want to make in this world. Write down your dreams. And keep that list growing throughout your life. Those dreams will be your guide."
"Yes. I live in a beach area in southern California and I am the only Black in my neighborhood. As I had the moving truck, there was a neighbor in my truck when I return and he wanted to know how many of us were moving in his neighborhood--sadly just a few months ago after 15 years of being in this neighborhood he has passed away-- he actually was not racist, he just really sounded that way. I'm sad to see him leave us."
"Yes, absolutely. My mother is an English teacher, and I went to private school and fairly exclusive universities. I have often been told that I 'talk white' from other black people. I’ve also had white people act surprised that I speak 'so nicely.' "
"I have unfortunately been judged by other Black people who fail to realize that there's not one way to be Black, Blackness can exist in multiple forms, shapes, sizes and colors."
"Strong, unique, eclectic"
"Yes, I have worried about going to a place and being the only Black female. I have a science degree so I had to get over how I thought people would react to me. I would still go and make sure that I was prepared for whatever task plus I would dress extremely well."
"If I Egypt, could be any woman it would be Oprah Winfrey."
"Being an immigrant to the UK from Zimbabwe and an immigrant in the US at different stages, I’ve felt that I sometimes have to play down my ‘otherness’. What does that mean? Not drawing attention to the fact that you’re different, the fact that you’re not from here. I’ve adopted my middle name, Charity, as my first for the most part, so as to not stick out like a sore thumb - be that in a social setting or in a work or school setting."