I’m going to be starting at a new private school next year, and I’m scared. I know that I am probably going to be one of the only black students in my entire grade. Do you have any tips to help me fit in?
Doubtful in Dedham
Build your confidence: immediately. You’re going to mostly be around white students no matter what, so you should find good things about yourself that you like—maybe you’re really smart, or you’re really athletic. Find confidence from within.
Next, if anyone bullies you, make sure to stand up for yourself. If you don’t like what someone has to say, you should tell them in a polite and respectful way. If you get angry and upset, you’ll unfortunately reinforce the stereotypes that they already think of you. Don’t let them win—address them politely and maturely, but challenge their ignorance.
You will also probably be asked to explain a lot of things about black culture that you’re used to and your classmates don’t understand. If you don’t want to do that, you don’t have to—you don’t have to answer for every black person in the world. You’re not the only black person in the world!
Finally, find spaces that support you. Look for afterschool programs that have good representation. If they don’t have racial diversity, look for a program with diversity of mindsets or socioeconomic background. If you really want to connect with people of your own ethnicity, look around outside of school—in your neighborhood, online, or in an afterschool program.
I really want to be an actress one day. I have researched the best performing arts colleges to go to, and I’ve done all my school’s plays. The problem is, my parents think being an actress is stupid, and that I should be a doctor instead. How can I get them to understand my dream?
Dr. Drama Queen
Dear Dr. Drama,
Try politely telling your parents that the things that interest you are important. Your parents are probably scared that things won’t go as planned, or maybe they’re even worried that you’ll become too successful and they’ll lose you. Parents never want to “lose” their children (even though we all know that’s just a part of growing up!). However, know that you can’t really convince other people about stuff like this. But you have high ambition for what you really love. If you can’t find support in your family, find other people who have the same goals. And don’t let whatever your mother, your father, or your grandparents have to say get stuck on your mind. They’re just trying to live vicariously through you, and you need to have your own ideas. Follow your dream. That may be an experience that you learn from. Don’t reject something that you really like and that you’ve had interest in forever.
Sometimes I just hate the way I look. I have very dark skin and my hair is really kinky. Sometimes people make fun of me for having such dark skin. How can I find a way to feel more comfortable with myself?
Where’s My Black Girl Magic?
Put yourself first. Don’t compare or try to emulate someone else’s beauty before yours. Don’t focus on Eurocentric features that don’t look like you. From straight hair to curly 3 type hair, Afro-beauty is amazing!
You should also look up people who look like you on Instagram. Follow Instagram accounts that post pictures of dark-skinned women and save pictures on your phone of successful black women, to look at whenever you need validation. Also, try to find hairstyles that enhance your kinky hair—check out tutorials on YouTube for hair advice and tips on how to go natural.
Finally, meditate. Listen to calm music or go outside for a little bit. Clean your mind. Travel if you have to. Look at beaches. When you leave your comfort zone, you might find that others see your beauty more than the people in your life do.