Social media has been a great platform for many young people to find their voices and their identity. I am grateful for social media because I was able to learn that I am not alone.
Growing up, I was labelled as a ‘coconut’. I assume I gained the label by being interested in things that weren’t ‘stereotypically black’. That statement always hurt because I thought I lost my validity as a black person, whom I was proud to be be. I didn’t understand how my preferences disqualified me from being black, as I celebrated my culture and traditions just like any other black person did. It’s as if they wanted me to be interested in the doing things the black way and no other way when it came to hobbies, art or food. Last year I got called a coconut for eating a veggie snack pack. It had cherry tomatoes, chopped carrots and green pepper slices. They were particularly repelled by the green pepper. Apparently it’s a sin for black people to consume healthy snacks.
With the help of social media and meeting people like Zamier, I have taken it all back. I don’t need to be validated by other black people because I have learnt that I am not alone. There are millions of other black girls that have ‘peculiar’ interests that may not be common in the black community. There are many more black people shining for integrating their cultures into our daily modern lives in the most beautiful ways. Through social movements like #carefreeblackgirl, I’ve been able to learn that I am black and you may be black, too. We may have a lot or very little in common, but we are both black because of the colour of our skin.That is the bottom line. Based on that fact alone, you’re my brother or sister. I will respect you, just like you respect me.
It has been an amazing journey, learning about the different and similar experiences of our cross-continental brothers and sisters. We educate each other with love and respect, yet occasionally a person may get dragged. So nowadays, I cringe when someone compliments me by saying I have a wonderful accent, because I feel so much more informed and self aware of myself in my blackness. It’s not a compliment. Its’s only a matter of circumstance.
To me being a carefree black girl means exactly that- I like what I like and I do what I do, the way I want to. I don’t have a care about what other people may think, whether they are black or non-black. I am proud to be black, even if you call me a coconut behind my back.
Photo by Sir Moore