art by Kyleasha
Being a black girl in this world is a different type of burden. You have expectations placed on you from everyone. You’re supposed to act a certain way, talk a certain way, carry yourself a certain way and while there may be black girls who fit this image, and there is nothing wrong with them, – not all black girls do. Being yourself as a black girl is a different type of burden.
In my first year of university, the first person to comfort me was a black girl with long, tight, curly hair. It was my second week and I had still not found the courage to approach anyone so again, for the second week in a row, I found myself alone in the library, in a small little cubicle. She knocked on my door and, startled, I opened it for her. She asked me how I was doing, how university life was treating me. She said she’d seen me alone last week and wanted to know if I would have lunch with her and her friends. I said yes, I don’t know why I did, I’ve always been painfully shy but nevertheless, I said yes.
Maybe it was the fact that she, too, was a black girl? That she called me sister girl and that I found familiarity in those words. Maybe it was because she was so genuinely thankful for my advice when she asked why eyeshadows just wouldn’t translate on her dark eyelids and that I felt my advice, gained from my own experiences, could help someone.
I had lunch with her and her friends, who were also black girls. We shared secrets like where the best black beauty salon in Perth were. Or the fact that we could call in for our shade of foundation at Sephora. Or which Essie nail polish was a black girl nude. Things that may have seemed trivial to others but to black girls meant so much. Those secrets meant normality and validity, that we are here and we are known to be here.
It can get lonely being a black girl. It can get lonely being so different from everyone else. But where we get in cold shoulders from the rest of the world, we receive the warmest of hugs from other black girls. This is a sisterhood that is forged in the dark, to withstand all that we may face, a sisterhood that blossoms and flourishes in the harshest of weathers. A sisterhood that transcends history and space.
I’m going to turn twenty in November, officially leaving the teenage party. A party I don’t think I could have navigated through without the guidance of the black girls before me. Their warnings of ‘jungle fever’, their advice on staying strong with all my blackness, their existence being a touch base for whenever I would face any sort of racism.
I may not know the black girls who will read this, if any do, but just know; there is a home for you out there. A home built by black girls of past. We love you. We need you. Maybe one day you too will leave your mark on that home. I hope you do, sweet girl. You are magic and you are real; you matter to us all.
Farah is an art student. She’s not really cool but that’s okay. You can see the mess that she gets into on her tumblr.