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Leah explains why she is proud to be Black for Black History Month

As a Black person in care, growing up was very difficult for me. It was difficult dealing with understanding my life, myself, my situation and my Black self. The carers I was living with weren’t a part of my specific culture, so it was also difficult to understand mine and the differences. This led to me having nobody to truly relate to and having to experience and learn about my culture later than I wished to. Despite that, I felt loved, connected, appreciated, and a true part of the family even though I wasn’t part of their culture.

They taught me that it is important to learn and embrace your culture and I’m very grateful for having carers that made the effort to educate themselves on my culture, and most importantly they taught me how important it is to love being Black.

For myself currently, I have experienced high school and endured my own struggles and know my social workers would always fight for me if any racial discrimination occurred (as it has in the past) and I’m grateful for seeing the change in this.

Although it felt empowering to research about my culture and interpret it my way, it was a bit misleading because others of my same culture did things differently, or mocked me for not really being ‘Zim’ because I didn’t understand traditions they would tell me about.

Personally, seeing my sister go to college and advance to university makes me proud of her, as a Black person also in care, and it makes me feel more aspirational because I have someone to look up to. I know that having good role models has been very important for me.

She speaks out on the news about not separating siblings as we were separated, although we were close. She spoke on how in Black culture, and most cultures, siblings should be kept together, especially when valid reason isn’t given as to why we shouldn’t be. She felt that “a lot of people didn’t understand that” and promoted this ideology of making an effort to keep siblings together instead of separating them because it’s more convenient for them.

One reason I am proud to be Black in care is because I have the opportunity to share my culture with my friends and carers, and as my foster mum is Black but from a different culture I get to appreciate those cultures as well.

As a Black person in care, I am proud to have been able to educate myself on my cultural practices and to learn to do my own hair and appreciate it. Something I had struggled with in the past.

Overall I am proud to be Black in care because I enjoy educating myself and others on my culture. I’m proud because of the activism we all engage in to make sure that Black voices are heard equally. I’m proud because I like expressing my identity, whether that be through clothes, hairstyles or music. I feel proud of all of the individuals in the Black community for ensuring that their voices were heard and most importantly understood. As a Black person, you shouldn’t water yourself down or care what anybody else thinks of you because the only person’s opinion that matters is your own.

I’m #ProudToBeBlack.

– Leah, Care Leaver

#ProudToBe – Leah

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