I recently finished college and I’m told this is where my life begins. I have the world at my fingertips and can do whatever I put my mind to… I agree with this cliché statement to a degree but as a young Black woman in America, I know better. My “life” began a long time ago– I would say at the age of three. I became a big sister and my mother became a single parent. I had to grow up very quickly. My younger brother became my responsibility when our mom wasn’t at home. I didn’t complain. I understood my new role, and took it on proudly. My story is typical of many African Americans who grew up in single parent homes. I didn’t have time to dream big because I had to act quickly. When our mother was not home, I had to make parental decisions for my brother and I. I wouldn’t put that type of responsibility on any child but I can say that I am a better person for my experiences. Things never came easy for us but our mother never let us see her worry. To say that my life begins now is to throw away all the valuable life lessons of my childhood and adolescence. These lessons got me where I am today so I refuse to do that. These experiences have helped me to deal with very difficult situations easily. I’ve learned how to “turn those lemons into lemonade” as the popular saying goes. As a people, we have been doing this since we involuntarily set foot on this land.
My story is one of many that make up the Black experience. Each of us handles what life deals us differently. What binds us is our history and culture. Our history is often sugarcoated and hidden. Our culture is often duplicated and seldom acknowledged. We continue to challenge stereotypes and even fall victim to them—but I digress. Black Is, the magazine, is a celebration of our experiences. It is a representation of the complexities that make up our daily lives. My hope is to bring the good, the bad and the ugly while posing questions to make you think and offering correctives to encourage action. What it means to be Black in America pertains to the individual. Black Is overcoming adversity and doubt in the face of struggle. Black Is determination and pride. Black Is beautiful. Black Is me.
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