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  • Writer's pictureHey Black Girl

“I’m not aggressive, I’m passionate”

Ashley Ighorewo | @__iamashley

Self-isolation has definitely given me time to think back and reflect on a lot of things, including what it is to be a black woman in the 21st century. One aspect I’ve reflected on is the notion/stereotype that black women are “loud” and “aggressive”… Why we gotta be aggressive? It is a known fact that we are resilient, strong, assertive and straightforward, and still it is all downplayed by the stereotypes attached to us by society. Maybe the passion we emit is all connected to the constant oppression that we have and still face; we’ve always needed to (even subconsciously) stand up for ourselves, and that’s probably what gets mistaken for aggression.

Picture of the author Ashley Ighorewo

I spent the first 8 years of my life in a predominantly white neighbourhood and elementary school. And up until grade 8, a predominantly white high school. Being around many white folks really made me feel like I needed to dumb down my blackness out of fear of being misunderstood and I did it so much, for so long, that it became a subconscious act. I literally felt like I scared white people. When interacting with them, I purposely softened my tone, code-switched to sound more “relatable”, and even relaxed my whole face (I have a “resting b*tch face”, as they say) to look less “angry”. I even remember expressing myself to one of my former classmates about a topic I was passionate about, and she literally flinched… The girl FLINCHED.

"When interacting with them, I purposely softened my tone, code-switched to sound more “relatable”, and even relaxed my whole face to look less “angry”."

Picture of the author Ashley Ighorewo

For decades, black women have been stereotyped, fetishized and mainly misunderstood due to our strong demeanors. We constantly fight for our representation. We are truly multi-faceted beings who have been forced into a box that seems impossible to break out of, but enough is enough. Due to the fact that we feel the need to repress our emotions so much, studies show that we experience more negative health outcomes such as anxiety and depression; adhering to this stereotype can be harmful in the long run. So, it’s not even good for your health! We must work together to educate others, deconstruct this stereotype, and speak up for all black girls who feel like their voices are “too loud”, because there is absolutely no such thing.

And this is why I deeply appreciate safe spaces curated for girls like me; because I am allowed to speak up unapologetically and embrace who I am with other girls who go through the same things, which then gives me the courage to show it to the world because I know I am not alone. Being a black girl can be difficult… but it’s ALWAYS worth it. Take that passion and hone it FIERCELY!

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