Growing Up a Black Girl: On Growing Up in an All White Town
This piece was written by Amber Mayfield. Amber is a New York based event planner and founder of Hosted NYC, an exclusive dining experience focused on connecting likeminded individuals through music and the arts. You can follow her journey on Instagram @Ambb_Mayy and check out hostednyc.com for any updates.
It happened when I was six. I moved to a new town where no one looked like us and everyone seemed to be surprised by our presence. As a first grader, I knew I was odd and that little boys were nicer to little girls with blonde hair. I figured they didn't like the beads on my braids, but I liked them. I knew I was cute. I just wasn't like them.
I had hair that the other kids didn't understand. And I didn't go to pool parties because I didn't want to answer questions about not getting my hair wet. And because of my mom's skepticism, I also didn't attend slumber parties with the other little girls.
My mom was "strict" in every sense of the word because she was parenting while others mothers were trying to be their child's friend. My mom was quick with the reminders, too. I'm not one of your little friends.
I was popular, but I was always alone. It wasn't until high school, when a few more black girls moved to town, that life offered me a sense of comfortability unknown to me beforehand. We all became friends. REAL friends. And later became family. Because we understood. We understood that we would always be too loud, too aggressive and too dark to get away with half of what our peers did.
In high school my hair was still different. Now it was relaxed, occasionally weaved, and was still not understood. Boys were still nicer to blonde girls, but now wondered if I knew any of the tricks the Black girls in the videos could do.
I spent most of high school days being insulted by people who had no idea they were being insulting. But I was learning life skills: to own my blackness, to protect my blackness, and to speak up for my blackness because that's what you have to do when you grow up a black girl in an all white town.