"Yes, hair. How black hair works, how it's styled, and maintained. Always the question of 'Can I touch it?'"
"Keep admiring and studying bad ass women who have little regard for what’s ‘proper.’ Keep asking questions. You are absolutely brilliant and your self-awareness will be the key to your success. Your self doubt and lack of discipline will delay your success. Practice taking risks and being decisive, you can always change your mind. Pursue the things that make you feel happy and strong. Let yourself feel your feelings, though don’t be consumed by them. And don’t worry, there are people who will have crushes on you too – you’ll meet them soon."
"It depends. I don't like strangers touching me, but feel particularly insulted when they want to touch my hair. I'm not a pet. However, someone I was very close to wanted to touch it as a sign of intimacy and because he so loved it. That has made me not so against, though I have yet to let them touch my hair."
"This is a familiar narrative in my life. I am educated, I've earned a doctorate degree, and I love words. That paired with my phenotype and the internalized narratives of the African American community, has meant being judged and isolated throughout my life; being called 'white black girl,' 'bougie,' and told that 'I think I'm better than everyone.' I've learned not to shrink, to make my voice smaller, that my voice and way with words is like art, it's not for everyone."
"Learn your history- there are a bunch of people making it more accessible, but mainstream media and the general education system aren't going to do the work for you. Love yourself first, or else it's going to be hard to love others. This system wasn't built for you to thrive, but you can. Put in the effort to get what you want, even if it doesn't look like there's a space for you. You can make that space, you can build that world."
"I believe there are stereotypes that society has placed on Black women, with a certain expectation that we will live up to them. Part of this is due to ignorance and racial bias, part of it is due to the ways we are portrayed in the media. Others develop negative typologies about us—we are baby mamas, angry black women, uneducated and unhealthy. As Black women we have to challenge these perceptions, whether they are stated, unstated or subconscious types of bias. We are multifaceted, and the world needs to see the positive aspects of our lives."
"Yes, I currently live and work in a section of Boston that is in the throws of gentrification. Our decision to live here was based primarily on crime stats. As an out-of-towner, my mom was very clear that she did not her daughter in "rough " parts of the city. (Back story: I am a native New Yorker, currently living in Boston for almost 11 years. I decided to move to Boston because my husband wanted to remain a constant presence in his son's life and the bi-weekly commute from NYC would've have been a stressful hassle.) When I tell people where I live, they are shocked. Like, 'Really, you live in Jamaica Plain?' I also had the unfortunate experience of being accosted by a resident who questioned my right to park in front of their home, assuming I couldn't possibly have a residential parking sticker. I walked away and told her to call the police."
"I once dated a white guy that was an atheist. I didn't hide the fact that I went out with him or that he was white but I didn't broadcast that he was an atheist. A person's religion is easier to hide, of course, than skin color and usually doesn't come up in the course of normal conversation of who you are dating. I guess my answer is I hid certain parts of my relationship through omission."
"Black women are expected to be strong and tolerate a lot from society."
"Listen to the advice of those older than you as history only repeats itself. The pain we experienced on your behalf shouldn't."
"This never really worried me until I got a bit older and became aware that I was the only black woman at a place. It never discourages me from going, however,I do dread situations like this. I hate feeling out of place. I'm an introvert, I love to just blend in any chance that I can lol."
"I never worried about that until after I did my first event with my job after graduating college (HBCU Morgan State). It was an awards ceremony in what was considered a white male dominated industry. At first I was intimidated by it, but I soon realized after a few events that I was put there for a purpose. I was suppose to be in that room and any prestigious room I stepped foot in there after. God knows exactly what HE is doing. I represented Blacks, I represented Women, I represented coming from humble beginnings. So now it no longer phases me. I won't lie and say I don't notice anymore but since I'm most likely going to be the only 'pop of color' I make sure I am well put together so there is no mistake it is me you see every time at every single event. Why fit in when you were born to stand out?"
"I wouldn't say I have been 'judged' by where I live, more so, people are surprised. Many times, I have had friends and parents of my friends drop me off at my home and express very openly their surprise that I live in the neighborhood I live in. I can't outright say it is because of the color of my skin but I'm going to guess that the melanin in my skin and the appearance of my home did not correlate in some of their minds..."
"In my late twenties I started therapy to help overcome drug addiction and to heal from incest. Many times I was the only Black woman and yes I kept going. My life and the quality of it was worth more to me than someone being comfortable. It was never a problem."
"When I wear my hair up at times I'll feel judged. Most people feel like it looks better down but it's very long and has a lot of volume so it's not always comfortable to do that. When I used to wear my hair in braids I did feel judged. Some people would tell me that I didn't need to braid my hair or that it could affect what jobs I get."
"Not so much worried, but it is something that crosses my mind. Though I do think a bit harder about being in a room of all white people after this last presidential election. I feel like folks feel freer to express their bigotry now. On the one hand at least I know where I stand, but on the other hand I realize I am not used to worrying about being jumped or having my tires slashed because of my skin color."
"Enduring, Electric, Enticing"
"Expanding and stretching the definitions, labels, expectations and expressions of what being black is and means."
"It does not bother me. I use the question as an opportunity to educate the individual on cultural differences."
"I learned that I could talk about race in a way that I never have before. That I should never hide anything about who I am or what I have achieved. I belong wherever I presently may be, and no one else should be able to tell me otherwise."