Hello beautiful people,
This particular post really hits home, literally. Today I will be discussing growing up as a black woman and my experience in the countries I have lived in as a person of colour.
Nigerian by blood. Both my parents are Nigerians (Yoruba's), so I was born in Italy Bergamo in a town called Calcinate. My parents lived in Romano before I was born. My mother moved to Italy in the late 80s. I grow up on a farm house in Fontanella before my family bought a home in Mozzanica.
I was always the only black girl in my class. Aware of my blackness early on. Won't say I was treated differently, but I would say I was seen as different simply because I didn't look like any of the other kids. I was called 'Chocolatina' (Chocolate girl) by my classmates. Wasn't bullied or anything. I won't say I fitted in and I won't say I didn't (sounds complicated I know), simply because, everyday I was reminded that I wasn't white. Around that time I started to hate my nose shape (which I actually love today! I feel like it suits my face so well).
My family were always respected in our community we gave them a different narrative of what a black family looks like that wasn't what was displayed in the media. Africans were stereotyped as poor, loud, uneducated and dirty. Not been any of those things got them confused. One of my sister's teacher one time insisted that my sister must have been adopted and wanted to meet our mum. This could have been because they didn't have any experience meeting different types of black people that were not in a certain way perhaps.
Around the age of 5 I moved to Nigeria, I remember it been different to what I was used to. Although I spoke and understood both English and Yoruba (just a little at the time) I felt as though I didn't quite fit in. The schooling system was different, the culture was different , the food (although I did grow up eating Nigerian foods I mostly ate Italian foods, as we mostly had a Mediterranean diet) and the people. I was treated differently at first especially by family members, almost as special. I lived in Lagos and Abuja but also visited Emure Ekiti and other places in Nigeria.
We moved over to London when I was 9. I had a hard time in primary school as I was bullied and teased by the girls in my year. I had a weird accent, I grew up with a strong Milan accent although I lived in Bergamo. I think that was partly because my mamma preferred the Milanese accent and scolded us when we sounded too Bergamasca (sounded like some from the province of Bergamo. There was also this particular boy once I was in year six that just hated me for no reason. Feeling like I didn't belong was an understatement, bearing in mind I grew up in South East London and still felt that is crazy.
Moving over into secondary school I was becoming my true self. I even stood up for those who were getting bullied, was friendly to them and just generally was a better person, because I understood what it felt like not belonging because of ones difference. Different because of ones: colour, nationality, culture, tradition, up brining and religion.
In my mid teens entering the job market as a young black woman, I found that interviewers/ managers were surprised that my name is 'Raffaella', I guess it isn't a common name for a black girl. I even get people telling me that I don't look like my name which I actually find funny.
Now I have lived here for the majority of my childhood (turning 21 this year) although I have no trace of an Italian accent as its over powered by my British accent it only comes out to play when pronouncing certain words. To me I have a unique mix of a British, Italian and Nigerian accent. As I moved around a lot growing up I found it hard to call a particular place home.
Being from different places, traveling, meeting new people and changing environments frequently did teach me some valuable lessons which are:
- Be nice to people, you don't know what they are passing through
- Be that person you wished you had around you in primary school
- Be genuinely interested in people, listen more and make others feel important
- Change is essential for growth
- It's okay to be different
- Not everyone is going to like you and that's absolutely fine
- Be proud of who you are and what makes you who you are
I hope to travel all over the world. I mean, even unconventional places that are not typically on the regular travel bucket list. Would love to document all that on here very soon.
Hope you enjoyed this post...