Written by: Rana Salman

Like many women of colour, I spent a lot of my adolescence feeling isolated. I grew up in a predominantly white area where I was asked countless probably-innocent questions about my skin, my hair, and my culture. For most of my youth, I was among the few people of colour in my class, and typically the sole black girl in a room. 

Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time ignoring this part of me. In typical pre-teen fashion, I wanted to fit in. I begged my mom to straighten my hair, I spoke differently, and I hid parts of me that I am proud of today. 

Today, I no longer feel like a token. Don’t get me wrong, I still often find myself being the only black girl in a room, but now, instead of hiding, I know I’m entitled to the same space as others. 

I stopped seeing my differences as negatives but started viewing them as positives. This mindset was and is hard to adopt. Sometimes, I still find myself thinking old thoughts and worrying about the parts of me that make me different. There are countless factors that play into beginning to change your mindset –  the most helpful one for me involved reminding myself that being a minority does not mean you have to make yourself fit into the majority. 

Today I don’t regulate my blackness, I refuse to make myself ‘easier’ to tolerate, and I don’t let being different make me feel weak.     

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