Profiles is an ongoing series, seeking to create spaces of affinity, where similarly identified folks have a space to talk about the perceptions, nuances and actualities of their identity.
With simplicity and ease, each and every one of these beautifully, strong and resilient young ladies spoke of their collective and individual experiences as black women. Composed of girls whose lineage date back to Nigeria and others whose mother's had to learn to style their black hair, these young women reflect the true diversity of black women-- from multicultural backgrounds to direct African roots, each one of these wonderful girls embodies black femininity. Here are their direct words:
What does it mean to be black?
"There is no way to describe that."
"I feel like it is obviously, a lot of struggle-- to go through struggle to find who I really am."
"I think that's a question people are still trying to figure out."
Is there something, other-worldly about black women?
"I would definitely say yes. A lot of the culture that black women wear on their shoulders, is taken from us. I read this article that was entitled, 'What if America loved black people as much as they loved black culture?' And that really stuck with me."
How have black women been treated historically?
"I know where I am from, Nigeria, all you see black people. But if you see a white woman there, the men will gravitate towards them... Sometimes I feel like the black woman has been overlooked."
"With the black community, darker skin women are looked at as less attractive. Especially in Portland, people go for more of the lighter skin people."
"A lot of the black boys I know, don't even look at black girls like that. They go on with this idea that they are black enough."
Have you ever been discriminated against, by other black females?
"For me, it was more about how smart I was. A lot of the black girls in my class, when I was younger, were not on my level. So they would say, 'Makayla, you talk so proper.' 'You're an Oreo.' 'You talk like a white person.' I should have stood up for myself... It was intimidating to be an intelligent, black woman."
What are some words attributed with being a black female?
Angry Black Woman.
Your hair is oily.
How long did you hair take?
Did you cut your hair?
You grew your hair out that fast?
From its inception, feminism has been white, female oriented. What are your thoughts on feminism?
"If it does not encompass all types of women, its not feminism."