Over the course of my 17 years of life, I have realized that I am black. Not only am I black, but I am a black grrl. This is not necessarily a new realization, but it is something that I have recently become proud of.

I, sadly, remember when I was younger sitting on the bed with my mother. Out of nowhere, I said, “Mom, why am I not white?”

My mother’s face became contorted and unsettled. I had not thought that this was a bad question to ask. From watching TV, movies, and living life in general, I saw that some people had it easier than me. My mother looked at me for multiple seconds, which for me, seemed like years.

She told me I am black because of where I came from. I am black because my dad is from Ghana and my mom’s grandparent’s grandparents were brought here. I left it at that because I did not want my mom to look at me the way she did again.

Growing older, I still thought about what I said. I saw how my brother would get looks at the store, how there were not enough TV shows for black audiences, and how the world sometimes never works in favor of a black person.

But as I sit here now, I understood why she looked at me that way: I had not become comfortable in my skin. My skin which has such a rich history, built empires and countries, and influenced and colors some of the world’s greatest people.

I soon learned, it did not matter what other people thought of my blackness. My insecurities dwindled and I learned to love everything about me. I loved my nose, my hair, my body type. I loved my blackness.

My blackness is beautiful and inspirational. My blackness is inclusive, rather than exclusive. My blackness is ready to learn about everything that is going on in the world. My blackness is woke and alive.

I want every person of color to become comfortable in their skin. Understand the rich history that you have and how it has influenced every aspect of your life, just like I have. Use everything you have to love yourself and your heritage.

Here’s to the rising Amandlas, Avas, Nickis, and so many other countless black women who have made me loved myself even more because of my darkness. I hope you too can love yourself even more than you already too.

Stay woke,