"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."
"Ahhhhhh, this one is hard. Assuming that you mean the generation after us...I don't spend too much time with those of the younger generation and a lot of what I do see makes me sad. I feel that they're very vulnerable (as we were in our adolescence) and are being completely misguided. It makes me SCARED for them.
But the gift and the curse lies in their youth. The gift is the opportunities that they have yet to encounter because of their youth. The possibilities are endless and a determined mind can accomplish anything. I plan on starting a mentorship program for high school students in my community because I want to give back and offer the support and encouragement that I received from the few that actually CARED.
The curse is TV and social media are raising these babies and I truly believe that it's to their detriment. I also feel that they are very disconnected from the past and those who came before and paved the way."
"I know as a black woman my hair is beautiful, so the fixation with touching it doesn't bother me so much. What I don't like is when someone goes in to touch my curls without my permission. My hair is a part of my body and its disrespectful to act so entitled to what belongs to me. Just don't do it."
"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."