Black | "Young, Black & Well Dressed" - A Photo Series

I am black, not because it is trendy or because I want to surf on the latest “urban” wave. I am black because that is who I am. I was born black, was raised black and will die black. I do not need to seek out external validation to truly appreciate who I am and to understand the strength of all the black men and women who came before me. My black doesn’t rely on the coke bottle figure, Addidas tear-aways or bamboo earrings. My black could care less about fitting in or conforming to what society thinks black is. My black embraces me in the darkest of moments and replaces the crown I often times forget my heritage has blessed me with.

Black is courageous. Black is powerful. Blackness endures.

I am consciously black and I navigate the world as such. I am proud of my black, but that does not mean I am blind to the adversity that comes as a result of my melanin level. Where I see strength and beauty, most see a statistic. My skin evokes a level of discomfort in those around me, creating an exclusively inclusive world. The tight polite smiles, condemning stares and constant stench of white guilt make up the sound track to my daily life. It would be easy to crumble under the negativity that I receive solely based on the level of a certain pigment my skin produces but I refuse to let those thoughts invade my headspace. I am rooted deep enough in my black to never waiver or fold.    

Being black is far more than a state of mind - it is a state of being. Black girl magic is a reality, allowing me to celebrate my melanin laden queens at every turn. My black is personal to me, a tapestry of the experiences that I have lived. My black cannot compare to your black and your black cannot be compared to another's because by it's very definition, being black is an internal struggle that bears the fruit that is you. When we stop trying to draw parallels between our back and embrace the fact that blackness is a fluid creature, we, together, will become unstoppable.

Black, a five letter word the sends fear and hatred down the spines of those around us - but, isn't it time that this word regains it's truth? Isn't it time to reclaim this word, shouting it out every chance we get? Isn't it time we broke the stereotypes, taking back our culture - the same culture they condemn in one breath but replicate and profit from in another? 

I dedicate this post to all my black King and Queens, those still with us and those taken from us too soon.

Thank you to Andel (@andeljoseph) for helping me tell this personal story of my black struggle and to Ayo (@aobyyc) for capturing my thoughts.