I spent Saturday in the company of other black women. That might not be worth a blog post everywhere, but when you live in Denmark, it is.
We were doing a photoshoot for our upcoming natural hair exhibition and documentation ( excited!). We had snacks and chats ranging from finding love in a big city (if Copenhagen qualifies) v.s love in smaller cities or even the country. We talked about growing up in “sharp-worded” homes. Homes where teasing/bullying wasn´t a big deal right, because at the end of the day we were there for each other? We talked about how that upbringing had shaped us, from what we loved and what we hated about ourselves.
This particular realisation reminded me of the first time my young aunt came to visit for a long period. How the teasing words she would say, would seem to pierce deeper and sharper than we would like to think of in our African homes. Deep enough to require more than a shaking off to forget years later. I do not blame her, because I know she was only mirroring her own upbringing.
It reminded me of how my mom used to joke about how everyone turned out “fine” despite the beatings, Christian authoritarian upbringing and the short supply of positive affirmations growing up. It reminded me of how my little sister ran off crying into her bedroom once, after saying that we in our family didn´t love her like the Danish kindergarten teachers, because when she was sad there, she was held, comforted and reaffirmed. It reminded me of how my mother had to learn to say she loved us because she never remembered hearing it from her parents. How she had to learn to give daily hugs like a foreigner practising a new tongue. It reminded me of growing up in sharp houses. And I questioned for myself, how all those experiences shaped an African being, an African home, an African village or country or even our continent.
I say all this not to devalue our strength and our ability to make light of heavy, to bring ease to discomfort, but also as a realisation of the importance of the other part of our golden sun aka our strength, which is softness. Where do we go as black people to find softness? Does softness not come in our shade? In this corner of the world?
I am now appreciating the value of both strength and vulnerability as complimentary and not opposites. As balancers needing to be held, one in each hand.
Later on, reflecting on this with my partner, we talked about the contradictions of our current existence as black people: Needing to bring strength out with us in the ‘real world’ but never forgetting, like how one leaves their shoes outside and enters the house barefooted, to bring home softness and bath in that softness, let it soothe all the things we had to be strong for. There remains an importance of becoming healing and revolutionary in more holistic and balanced ways.
All in all, it was an enriching weekend I had, surrounded by so many beautiful souls and reflections.
(P.s, I do not own the rights to these beautiful images)