Dear Sista Friend,
If I could write a letter to every person who has suppressed my identity, it would be something like this:
Today, I will not shelter my identity. I will not hide what exudes my culture. I will not shield the truth behind tears and pain. I will stand boldly with them, so that you may know that my heritage is more than a secret. My legacy is a ritual. I will step into my identities, so that you may understand that the creators of this nation are not merely immigrants. Your nation was built off of the enslavement of my family, who were unwillingly bound in chains and shipped on a boat. See today, I will step into my identities, so that you may know that you isolate many people and many cultures when you claim American history to be the only history of value. Today, I am Black — stop commodifying my culture. Stop commercializing my beauty.
Today I choose to step into my gender, into my womanhood, so that you may understand how often my body is stripped and searched. How often it is molested and taken for granted. Day after day my thoughts are harassed because of the misconception of my knowledge. See, you place yourself over me. You paralyze my thoughts by denying the truth and logic of them. And in order for you to feel superior you force your own thoughts into my head. Disgracefully, when I resist, you continue. Over and over you attempt to take away the essence of who I am, and not once did I give consent. I am a survivor of abuse, but today I will step into my identities. I am – a woman, so stop diminishing my voice. Stop abusing my thoughts.
I will step boldly into my identities because when I transition into the professional world I want you to stop hijacking me of my autonomy. You seem to always attempt to be in control, always trying to snatch my identities out from under me. You cannot handle me being a Black woman and a professional at the same time. Why is that? The intersectionality of what molds me is a hindrance for you. Somehow my greatness is completely overwhelming to you, so I am forced to negotiate. Forced to straighten the kinks in my hair, lower the “passion” in my voice, wear colors that are dark enough to tame my vibrant character, but clothes loose enough that don’t define my butt and my hips. I have to choose between my personal identities and the your definition of professionalism, but today I will not compromise.
I am stepping into my identities. I am no longer allowing you the right to control my being. You will not separate me from what I have earned. The stigmatization of my confidence, empathy, and intelligence ceases here. I am not weak, nor I am deficient. I choose to not be a part of the norm, the melanin in my skin and the kinks in my hair won’t allow it. You don’t have to accept my identities, I do.
It would be something like that!
So to my Sista Friends, own your identities because even without you proclaiming them, they will still exist. We are not exempt from experiencing social biases. You may still be a victim of prejudice because people are constantly and unconsciously being programed, so why not own all that you are. Many may avoid you for who you are, but understand that their perception is off. Sista Friend, this is not your problem, it’s theirs. Hopefully, they will get to explore the misinformation that they have acquired about you and me, and stop being socialized through the media. One day, they will stop disposing our identities.
Until then, take pride in who you are…Reclaim your power today. Make the decision to not succumb to their false beliefs of who you are. Do not allow them to place your identities in a box. Do you Sista Friend, and don’t shy away from your identities.
Your Sista Friend,