I decided to tackle a tough subject to begin this blog: Being a Black woman here in Montreal.
Whenever I get to speak of my experience living in this fairly big city, I have to start with the topic of representation. We’re not represented enough in the media or in the artistic scene, that’s a fact. Our voices have been silenced for years.
Inclusivity seems to be forced on companies who are hiring or even in TV commercials. The Black girl is only included to serve a purpose or to reach some quota for the government.
Filling out job applications here, I had to get ready to check the square that asks if I am a “visible minority?” or a “woman?”
Growing up, I remember feeling like I had to carry two burdens: the one of being born a woman and the one of being born Black. This feeling is still present in my daily interactions, and it can be hard to deal with. Unfortunately, speaking up about my experience is not something that I learned how to do: I learned to “ignore my pain and move on with life”. Like so many Black girls had to do.
Being a Black girl here, I am perceived as the strong Black woman, the one whose back was made to carry the burden. Lies.
I am noticed as the “loud girl”, whenever I voice my opinions, I am the “angry Black woman”. I grew up lowering my voice and trying to be more “socially presentable” to be accepted. I grew out of that phase, thankfully.
From a very young age, my body was over-sexualized. Older men always seemed to stand too close and sexual comments were the norm. Issues such as being thrown racial slurs at school, or colorism within family and friends’ spheres were never really addressed, remember, “ignore the pain and move on with life”.
But thank God things are finally changing!
The tables are turning and right now, I can finally say I am seeing changes within the community. We have become more upfront about issues such as racism and colorism, we call out racists, injustice, and inequalities. We empower each other, and empower young girls who might be going through hard times. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done, but change is here.
I am choosing to focus on our community and the impact we have on future generations. Whilst I still advocate for representation in the media: I choose to represent us, within the community, and help us grow. And I feel like I am not the only one who has taken that initiative.
Roaming around the city, we can see that there is a rise in the amount of safe spaces where Black girls can go and express themselves. Whether it is in a little cafe, or in an art gallery, there are expositions of Black women’s art. The conversations in hair and nail salons have shifted: we are beginning to address trauma. That’s something I did not grow up seeing and I am loving it.
It is truly refreshing to see a generation of women uplifting each other, and the fact that this change is happening here in Montreal adds to the magic. I am seeing more movements that encourage self-love, and conversations about Black women’s mental health. Finally, I see a community growing outside of the trauma, a community that inhales hatred and exhales love and kindness. I see women who love themselves enough to share this love. They are at the forefront of this new era, and I don’t know about you, but I can’t get enough of that energy!
I am seeing Black women who love genuinely trigger change.
Black women who are taking up more space.
I am finally seeing us Black women here in Montreal.
Naomie’s words for joy