Updated: Mar 30, 2021
By Khandace Wilkerson
Being a black girl in Boston is an experience that is very nuanced and comes with a lot of ups and downs. Living in Boston, our experiences growing up are often overlooked and it's time that the issues Black girls all around this city experience are brought to attention. Ever since I was a little, being a woman of color has always been the foundation of my identity. It has affected the way I interact with my peers, teachers, mentors and even my friends.
Being a woman of color, especially a young Black woman, I am always cognizant of how I carry myself. Because of the social stigmas that have been placed on Black women, learning how to “dile back my Blackness” has been a skill I have unconsciously been taught since I was a little girl. Whether that be from straightening my hair so my natural curl pattern wouldn't be a “distraction” to other people, learning how to talk in a more “professional manner”, or refraining from speaking up for myself so I don’t come across as intimidating, there has always been an underlying message. As a young Black woman, I am a threat. As an educated Black woman, I serve as a threat to the misogynistic and racist ego that has formed in our society.
As I said before, being a Black woman in Boston comes with many ups and downs. From the time we are born, we are labeled with hundreds of stereotypes and are forced into these characterizations that society has made for us. I never realized how evident this was in my own city until I got older. Because I attend an exam school and live in a predominantly white neighborhood in a two parent household, I’ve always been labeled as “stuck up” or “bougie”. Because I don’t fit into the ignorant stereotype of being a “loud” and “ghetto” Black girl, I’ve been called whitewashed. Fortunately, I have a strong sense of self so those comments have never bothered me but it is unfortunate that people fail to understand that Black women come in all different forms, personalities, lifestyles and traits. We are all not what is portrayed on television.
Additionally, colorism has also been a universal that all Black girls have either witnessed or been victims of whether they are aware or not. Specifically in Boston, colorism is heavily evident in the social dynamics of teenagers. Because of the everlasting affects colorism has had on the Black community, Black women of darker skin tones have been perceived as less attractive and more aggressive compared to Black women of lighter shades. In my experience as a Black woman of a lighter shade, I haven’t been personally affected by colorism but I definitely have observed how it affects my community. I’ve had conversations with guys who truly believe a Black girl is less attractive simply because she is “too dark”. How ridiculous is that? Ignorant comments like that have caused dark skin Black women to internalize that and cause them to believe that they are inferior which absolutely breaks my heart.
Although these experiences have been a general foundation to what it is like being a Black girl in the city of Boston, everyone has different experiences. However, I do hope I have given insight to those who are reading to what many Black women like myself have experienced living in this city and across the nation.