Growing up as a Nigerian woman in London sometimes felt like I had two separate identities, the one at home and one for the outside world. The cultures are very different and therefore I felt I had to deal with them separately, to the point of creating two separate lives, if you will. My efforts to combine them was my greatest challenge, for, in many ways, they come into direct conflict. I felt that, in creating this space, I’d carved out a platform in which I could express myself and my identity.
As a black woman, often when you speak up you are view as ‘problematic’ and on this site, we have decided that “there is no point in being quiet”. The aim is to challenge anything that seeks to silence the voices of the minority and within the same breath, provide these minorities with a source of comfort and understanding that allows them to feel heard for the first time. It is my belief that only then -with knowledge, understanding and compassion- can the very institution that supports these social injustices be challenged.
PRBLMTC is there for us to speak up. For us to point out what we feel is wrong and what should be discussed. For us to challenge the ideas surrounding who we are a what we should be. For us to be the stereotype and not feel guilty, for I am a black woman and quite frankly, I have a lot to be angry about. To combat anything that dictates our narrative based solely on what they see.
Photo by Anna-Rose McChesney
My full name is Afua Takiyaw Owusu-Ansah and I study Sociology at the University of Bristol. The lack of diversity was an initial culture shock, to say the least. But the efforts made by the BME network and societies of colour was truly inspiring. So much so that I decided to help create this little blog.
My family’s heritage is Ghanaian and now I couldn’t be more proud to say that, especially considering that I was quite embarrassed by it growing up. I was raised in a middle-class suburb in SE London called Dulwich. I grew up surrounded by whiteness; I went to middle-class schools in my area full of white people. Watching and trying to emulate the whiteness I saw before me. I didn’t understand why I was so different from everyone around me. Why my attempt to match the straight hair of all the Becky’s and Stacey’s through relaxers always fell short, and I was left with a lifeless mop of hair on my head. Why my large nostrils and darker skin couldn’t be changed. As a child, this only phased me slightly, but my self-hate grew once I entered secondary school. It took a while but by Year 10 I started to embrace my Ghanaian heritage and blackness. Four years on now at 18, I couldn’t be more proud of my culture and the stunning melanin that lies within my skin.
After a while, I noticed that my own story was similar to the experiences of many other black girls. So I began to start speaking out. I’ve been called ‘ a problematic figure’ due to the opinons I’ve raised in spaces around me. But if being problematic means speaking the truth without fear. Well then babe, I guess I’m just as problematic as you can get!
Photo by James Greenhouse
There is an ever pressing need for more black women to speak up on the issue’s we face due to our race and our gender. In our society we are seen as both the inferior race and gender and therefore our views are not represented enough, this site aims to empower black women and to address problems within the black community.
My particular passion resides within encouraging and supporting black girls all over the world to love and embrace the features and culture which they’ve been taught are sub-standard in relation to western features and cultures. Therefore, focusing on discussing how to grow long, healthy natural hair which many have said we couldn’t. I aim to open up a space for the conversation regarding issues such as colourism, misconceptions and stereotypes, unrealistic standards and expectations of women and the misconstrued perceptions of beauty. By discussing these topics, we raise awareness of the harmful effects of negative perceptions and beliefs and in doing so, hopefully, we will cause more change. I hope that on this site we can all connect from various parts of the world and grow together, express ourselves without restriction and to heal from things we are all struggling to deal with. Thereby strengthening our community.
I’m Gloria Olajide, a student of English Literature and American Studies at the University of Sussex. Literature has always been my passion; I’ve grown up reading, imaging and creating different worlds with words. I often found that there wasn’t a space for me in the stories that were written or that were taught to me. This blog includes me, and I am so happy to be a part of it.
I, like many, have always been hyper aware of my own identity. This identity not existing as a part of me but as something constantly defined by those around me. I now have the growing desire to claim this back, this emulates itself in my love for theatre, music, literature and film. I believe that people can exist in as many spaces as they desire, and they should claim these as their own.
I understand that sometimes having to challenge stereotypes and validate our experiences can be exhausting which is why I encourage this blog as a creative outlet, a way to comment on black films, music or shows and celebrate the creativity within our community. Our existence can also be positive despite the obstacles thrown in our way.