top of page
  • Writer's pictureBEES

Black Identities - I am who I am. (Part One)

Updated: Dec 18, 2023

BEES Contributors may choose to reveal their identities or not...

When I was asked to write about my blackness, I was very excited to share my point of view, but after a little thought I had no idea what I would write. 

Black women looking at the window

What does it mean to be black? I've never known anything else, so how do you articulate something that has shaped my experiences of life, but I have no comparison, as being black is what makes me, me.

As a young child I was surrounded by family and have fond memories of my Nanny and Grandads’ front room filled with all my aunts and cousins.  My grandparents would dance to Bob [Marley] and show us what it was like to love each other. It was home. It was safe. Their house was filled with my people and as they lived in South London at the time, when we went shopping, I would always see people that looked like me. I was surrounded by blackness. So, looking back I was fortunate to be in that environment, as it allowed me to be comfortable with just being me.  My foundation was set.  I always had people around me that looked like me so there was never a need to be anything other than myself.

As I got older, I was taught to be aware of my blackness, and can remember conversations around trying harder than everyone else, because of my skin.  Looking back now it’s quite daunting. Being told that you have to act differently because you have black skin. I don’t remember a time where I wished I could be any different though. 

The key point in the acknowledgement of my blackness would probably have come during my years at secondary school. You needed to be in the know to really own your blackness. 

At the school dance – Can you whine down low enough? Have you even got rhythm?  What food do you eat on a Sunday?  How do you prepare food? Do you still get 'beatings?'

I felt like this was the true test for your blackness. You had to know enough to be in the know and failing at being black was tough. 

From the name calling to the shaming, black people expect you to have a standard a basic level. For the most part I knew the assignment, but there were some parts that I didn’t want to be privy to like domestic violence, and this was the norm amongst my peers - once they opened up about it - because we all knew that black people were not really supposed to chat their business out of the home. We were supposed to suffer in silence. 

This has always been difficult for me. Why would we not want to talk about what we were going through. It’s a must, it’s the only way to challenge the experiences that we have and to ensure that we don’t repeat the cycle.  I am most comfortable with people I do not need to explain what it is like to be black to. It’s like an unspoken conversation.  

You literally are allowed to turn up as yourself because you don’t need to explain that you may have been subject to racism, or that you may have felt uncomfortable as you are the only black person in the room. Just by sharing the same skin colour you have a shared experience.

I am made aware of my blackness, when I am around people that are not the same colour as me, or in situations where I am the only black person in the room. The mind races!! Is this a safe environment? Can I be myself?  What version of black people do these people know? It’s exhausting, so much can go through my mind in an instance which can take away from just being present in that moment. It’s not all the time that I will feel uncomfortable, but I will always be aware of the dynamics. 

18 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page