I am Black, and I have suffered enough. My skin colour and sense of belonging to a minority will determine my destiny. I know it; this is what I have been told. My skin colour is the perfect guarantee that I will have to struggle in life and fight against racism and xenophobia. The glass ceiling awaits me, no matter what studies I undertake or how much energy I put into advancing to leadership positions.
“You are Black. You are petite. You are a woman. You will have to fight.”
These were my mother’s words when I was about to fly the nest from Togo to France at the age of eighteen, after graduating from the French baccalaureate. By expressing herself in that way, my mother unknowingly sealed my fate for a gloomy destiny of battles and the constant need to prove myself in a world of brutes. And that’s what I tried very hard to do for a large part of my life: prove that I was as capable as the others, prove that I had “balls,” prove that I could make it despite the unappreciated combination of my skin colour and gender.
Imprisoned by identity
This iron seal affixed to me had coloured my destiny, until I discovered that I was much more than my skin colour. A statement heard in a Buddhist monastery in Nepal called me out: “Beware of anything you put after the words ‘I am.’ Because saying ‘I am’ can lock you into an identity. And this identity can cause a lot of suffering.” This teaching changed my whole existence. It shattered everything I had been taught, everything I believed in. I understood that using these words ‘I am’ had confined me to a very limited view of my being. This profound and wise suggestion enlightened and set me free because those who walk and are aware of their chains are definitely freer than those who are not aware of them.
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