Born Under a Bad Sign
My mother is French-Canadian and American German. My father is Nigerian Ijaw. My father was deported back to Nigeria when I was a baby so I was raised by my mother and my maternal grandparents. I had no contact with my father until I found him in my mid-twenties and have since developed a relationship with him via e-mails (See: All About My Nigerian Father). I have yet to meet him in person.
As I discuss in the post White Trash Pride: Being a Black Girl Growing Up with Poor White Folks, I grew up on welfare in a subsidized housing community.
My experiences growing up in my mother’s abusive and dysfunctional family definitely shaped my perspectives on issues related to women’s rights and empowerment. I consider myself a feminist, a Black feminist (big fan of sisters bell hooks, Angela Davis, and Audre Lorde) to be precise.
I survived a difficult childhood to become a relatively functional adult. Still haven’t finished university but there are worst things to have not completed. Considering that I dropped out of school in Grade 7 and again in Grade 9, it’s a miracle I even graduated from high school.
I couldn’t read at my Grade Level until I was about 13. Then I started reading everything. Many of the posts on this blog relate to my extensive reading. Reading is my favourite thing to do seconded by scouring used book stores to find copies of out of print novels from the Heineman African Writers Series.
Good Hair/Bad Hair
I have been told that I am quite dark for a person of mixed race and that my hair is jacked up. This is what Black people tell me. Black people tell me lots of crazy things about what I should or should not look like. I have learned to dismiss them.
My hair is naturally very short and straight up nappy. I look like Don King in the morning. Actually, I think Don King’s hair is longer than mine. My mother had no idea what to do with my hair. My grandmother was convinced that she could somehow torture my hair into submission by combing it with this awful razor comb (I later learned that it was a hair thinning comb).
I have come to terms with my hair although wearing a hijab (Muslim headscarf) has helped me not have to fret about what to do with my hair when I go out. (Oh ya, I converted to Islam in my early twenties. See: Being Black, Being Muslim)
As a child, despite my jacked up hair which made people think I was a boy because it wasn’t braided and it wasn’t long, I thought I was pretty cute. When I became a teenager, I thought I was pretty ugly and went through what a lot of Black women go through in relation to beauty.
Now, I really don’t care if I’m attractive or not. I’m probably not but that never stopped Whoopi Goldberg from hooking up. In all honesty, I’d rather look more like Whoopi Goldberg than Halle Berry. And that fact pretty much sums up my entire personality.
Being Black in Ottawa
I have lived my whole life in Ottawa, Canada. This context, I think, will set me apart from many other Black bloggers. Ottawa is a bilingual city (English and French) and I speak both languages so I have the opportunity to interact with a variety of Africans and members of the African diaspora.
In my neighbourhood alone I have neighbours from Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ghana, Liberia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Burundi, Haiti, Jamaica, and Congo-Kinshasa. So, whenever there is a conflict in Africa I know I will be getting new neighbours. All the more reason to find out what is going on there.
You can follow my adventures in my Day in the Life posts.
Also, check me out on Twitter.