Alana.  LA, USA

I feel like a totally different person now. If you met me a year ago you would have met someone who was hiding in plain sight in every possible way. I was fully aware of it.

 

Looking at me now I’m clearly very comfortable and unapologetically black but my whole life people have told me things like ‘you’d look so great if you did X, Y, Z’ and I say ‘No thank you I’m good.’

It makes me feel like they want to wipe out my identity, like my blackness is standing in the way of me being pretty. 

 

My African genes are strong and they show up in my face and my skin and I think it’s very important to own that otherwise it’s doing a disservice to my foremothers and forefathers who suffered because they were black. So I think now I have a duty to them to say we lived, we survived, now I’m here and I’m going to step fully into who I am as a black person. Without fear. 

 

Since when I was little my favourite book is Her Stories by Virginia Hamilton. I’d never seen dark-skinned princesses and mermaids with afros before. I love the book in its entirety. I have one tattoo of one of the characters because out of all them she really stood out to me. She is a very proud and headstrong woman who learns not to judge others. I just loved her demeanour and she was so striking to me.

 

I’ve also always loved and have such a deep connection and love for snakes.They're so powerful.

My mom knew that she was pregnant with me after a snake dream.. My dad got me my first snake when I was six years old. 

 

I never want to get stuck in my old scales. I just want to keep shedding my skin and evolve, like a snake who is constantly in a state of birth, death and rebirth. I want to die and be reborn as many times as possible. 

 

It’s taken some time for me to emerge but I’m here in every way and I feel so free.