I was born in New York but grew up just 30 minutes south of Atlanta. My family was the first black family on our suburban Georgia street. We were greeted with arms of conformity and assimilation, not warm Southern hospitality. The only black history I was taught in school was about slavery, as if my people failed to exist before America. I grew up around people who didn’t look like me and I always felt like the odd one out. I was always one of a few people of color in all social situations. This taught me self-hate and doubt because I thought there was something wrong with me. I distinctly remember expressing my desire to my mom for a nose job and a perm to “fix” my traditionally Jamaican features. School and mainstream media taught me that I didn’t come from much and my appearance was not wanted.
Coming to AU and being surrounded by so much diversity, I’ve realized that beauty comes in so many shapes and forms. There is not one mold that we all have to fit into to be perceived as beautiful. I love this melting pot of cultures and new faces I’m able to be a part of. The forums, conversations with my peers, cultural clubs and celebrations of blackness on campus have taught me to love myself and where I come from. I’ve also realized that in order to learn the truth about my history I have to go outside the classroom and seek the truth for myself. My history does not start with slavery and end with closeted racism in 2017. We come from kings and queens, we are movers and creators of an amazing country that doesn’t always support us. We are intelligent, hard workers with a beauty that can only be explained as ethereal. I am not unwanted, I am not not unattractive, I am not inferior, I am not a threat, I am not “the angry black woman,” and I am not defined by my hair. I am proud to be black and my black is beautiful.