How to OWN being the only Black girl in the room.

Updated: Jan 7, 2019

We've all been there before

As a black girl, there have been times where I've lacked seeing heavy representation (if any at all) at many events. I think most of us have encountered that awkward moment where the blackest thing close to you is a token brown face ( paper-bag test passable complexion) on some random advertisement, promoting a company's "diverse" group of consumers. For the past four years, I've had more "run ins" with this issue than I would have asked for. Yet, going through this has taught me how to approach this problem with a poker face and fearless attitude. I know a lot of people that shrink themselves in fear of feeding into stereotypes or being viewed as "that aggressive black girl." I'm here to tell you that it is okay to be who you are unapologetically, and to offer advice to those who may need it.

Don't hide who you are

It can be easy to lose sight of who we are when we're put in a position that can make us feel unsure of ourselves. For those who find it troubling being the only black face in the room, realize that you belong there just like anyone else and that you are in that circumstance for a reason. Don't let fear dampen who you are, and don't let doubt keep you from showing it. Speak up and own the moment. I know there are some who may be worried about coming off as "aggressive", but it's much better than showing them how silent, unaware, and inferior they expect us to be. Show them why you're just as good to be there, because someone may be secretly doubting your abilities. Remind yourself that you deserve whatever opportunity you're benefitting from along with them, because sometimes we can forget. Own being who you are in that space, and prove that you won't shrink in the sight of adversity.

Don't Isolate Yourself

Closing yourself off to others because it may seem that you have nothing in common can hurt you more than you think it may be helping you. Branch out and show them that you're not afraid to interact with them. Don't admit to feeling out of place with your actions. Now, when you interact, always remain true to who you are. Steer clear of forcing yourself to fit in ( i.e. changing your image to please others). Don't become that "black girl" that's "shucking' and jivin'" for attention either; remember that you're not anyone's entertainment. You don't have to be a perfect puzzle piece, but exchanging a few words to let them know you're there is always a great option. Making our presence known among others is something that we all have to deal with at times, don't be afraid to speak up.

Use it to your own Advantage

The way you react to this situation is what you make it. Use this time to your advantage. Show them how we get down, boo! Let them know how creative and intelligent you are. Don't give off the impression they're looking for, give them something they don't usually expect. Be confident in your ability to stand boldly. Don't let the fact that you are the minority stop you from acting as empowered as anyone else. You matter, you are just as important, and you deserve to be able to be yourself without question.

You can do this

I'm here to tell you that any awkward feeling that stems from facing this type of scenario is normal. Yet, remember that you've got this. Don't lose sight of who you are or the power you posses. Standing firm in yourself when the odds are against you is a pretty powerful act, and being black without apology is one of the most powerful things we as black girls and women can do. Don't be fearful or doubtful when you're in a "fly caught in buttermilk" situation; be determined to show them how you can still remain solid under pressure.

-ashley Lauren

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