To be a person of some “other” identity, means being acutely aware that, at a default, you are perceived (and likely, treated) as “different.”
Instead of merely being ‘human’ like everyone else, your humanity tends to conjure several questions (and people probe earnestly): “does your skin get darker in the sun? Is that your real hair? Do you feel the same level of pain? How do you have sex? When did you know you weren’t like everyone else?
For me, accepting that I will be perceived differently as a Black woman is both a blessing and a curse. I learned early on to expect the worst from most people in terms of how they perceive me, so I don’t make myself a sponge to people’s discriminations and abhorrent sentiments. It’s a lonely space to be in, even when amongst other “like you,” but it also gives you an unwavering comfort that you will be ok no matter what. The world could give you the worst, and so be it–you’ll still be you. Your life could be cut short but, you still lived it (and hopefully, to the fullest). You may lose a lot externally, but what you gain internally can never be taken from you. Nonetheless, having to program yourself to believe this makes life’s difficulties a little easier to swallow, yet still a bit heartbreaking, as so many people simply don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes.
That’s why it’s especially refreshing to hear stories like your own that reassure you that it’s not all in your head–it’s real and hurtful; the unwelcoming energy, glares, microaggressions, and bold insults. All of it makes overcoming the adversity, let alone rising above it, an enormous feat. I celebrate the people who garner the will to do this despite being treated as “other,” especially those who are women. People like Kristina and Lise, two Black women breaking all kinds of barriers in the white-washed world of luxury fashion by their mere daring to exist within that space. I chatted with them both to encourage more people who aren’t from marginalized identities to advocate for those who are, whether it be in business or in life, there’s no limit to how we can uplift and empower one another, and especially, people striving every single day to be accepted.