Last week, I received this message from a young woman about my « How do you love me » project. As an artist, this is from far the best form of reward I can imagine, and I am so grateful when my work makes sense for someone.
My name is…. and I’ll be turning 24 in September. You contacted my mother who says is a distant relative of yours. She sent me your website to look at and it resonated with me. Reading “How do you love me” was like reading my inner thoughts. I am biracial as well having a white mother and a black father. I grew up and still live in a small predominantly white town in the US. Straightening my hair was a must in an effort to fit in and for a long time it was the only way I felt beautiful. I was too white for the black kids and too black for the white ones. If a guy in my class liked me he would force me to keep the information between the two of us and be embarrassed to admit that he was attracted to a black girl. For years I felt confused and didn’t know where I stood in society. There is no biracial culture. You just identify more to one side than you do to the other. For me I tried to identify more to my white side in an effort to fit in. For my older brother, he seems to identify more to our black culture.
During this pandemic I embraced my wild curls for the first time since grade school. I started to experiment with my hair with different products and different styling techniques and I learned to love my curly hair and be confident in my natural state. If it wasn’t for the months in quarantine and working from home, I don’t think I would have ever let my curls be free and learn to love them. Even as a young adult I still find men sending unsolicited opinions on my hair, stating “I like your hair straight better” or “I want to see your hair straight in person”. Before I would have let my insecurities win and straighten my hair to make potential suitors happy. Now that I have found true confidence in my natural state I realize these men are not potential suitors for me at all if that’s the type of comments they make towards me about my hair.
All in all I just wanted to reach out and let you know that I appreciated your words and that it felt nice to remember I’m not alone. I don’t have any biracial friends who can relate and never had a conversation with anyone who can understand my feelings. I think my mother realizes this and is the reason why she referred me to your website and I’m so glad she did. Thank you for sharing your background with the world and I hope you continue to reach other mixed race individuals. We need more representation in this world and more people to talk about the identity struggles we have growing up in a world that is so black or white. Thank you again.