Growing up a black women in both a predominantly black country and a white country

Updated: Sep 8, 2020

By: Anonymous writer

When I was 5, I moved to Kenya and spent the majority of my life there. Although I moved to Canada 3 years ago with only 5 months shy of adulthood, I believe those 3 years were really crucial in my life and definitely shaped me into the woman I am today. Being in both Kenya and Canada has widened my perspective of how black women are treated in both parts of the world. Throughout my life, as a black woman I have noticed a high degree of dehumanisations and negative implications unveiled upon us; from disgusting animal comparisons to the utter disregard of our pain and presence. Even though I am a black woman that has spent the majority of her life in a black country these were still common occurrences that I experienced.

Growing up, I never even had dolls that looked like me, instead the dolls I saw growing up were white with blushed cheeks. Though this may seem like a minor detail to some, it was the beginning of a life of exclusion for me. It was one of the first things that truly made me feel different. It became more apparent to me that we weren’t regarded the same once I'd joined school. In school, it often was the case that the only thing I could be as a black woman was sassy or rude. This stereotype was the reason I used my attitude as a defence mechanism. I didn’t want to be ignored or disregarded so I allowed myself to be disliked and fit into the stereotype of being the black girl with an attitude problem. When I would witness these stereotypes being implicated by white people or other people of colour I didn’t really care all that much because at the end of the day they came to a black country. So if they didn’t like black people that was their own issue and you can easily label it as prejudice or racism.

Despite that, hearing these things coming from black men always baffled me. I mean what do you do when this bias and prejudice comes from the people that look like you? I can say that the intra racial empathy gap definitely extends transcontinentally. In Kenya and Canada there is a one-sided respect when it comes to black men. Similarly, the stereotypes of being a black woman has also followed me here - except now I’ve grown enough and learned not to care to be ignored or stereotyped. I’ve come to learn that at the end of the day if you choose not to respect me based on the colour of my skin that’s your loss and I’m still going to do what I want to do.

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