I Am

A reflection written by Women’s Center student staff member Bria Hamlet

I’ve got a gap in my front teeth,
I make a mess when I eat,
I’m always late,
I’m hard to date,
I think Eminem is my soulmate

I rock an afro with piercings,
I exaggerate my feelings,
I watch YouTube instead of TV,
I choose to stray from normativity

You’ve just read my spin on Mary Lambert’s song “Secrets.” The melody has been stuck in my head for hours now. She sings about herself, throwing out the good, the obvious, the hidden, and the complicated. She tells us that she doesn’t care how the world perceives her and what they have to say about who she allegedly is.

Girl, I feel that.

I am really, really getting comfortable with no longer explaining myself to everyone. If I didn’t personally harm or wrong you, you get no explanation. I am giving myself permission to wear red lipstick to work, listen to Nickelback and then the Roots on the way, all while sporting a tailored skirt and Converse. Let me live.

BriaAs a Black American woman, I am subjected to harmful and negative stereotypes constantly. If someone isn’t policing my blackness, they’ve surely fixated on my hair. The next target is my complexion, followed by my clothing, and their personal favorite, my diction. I can’t just be Bria, I must be whoever you all think Bria is supposed to be. I am really tired of making everyone else comfortable. I don’t have to make “figuring me out” easy. I’m not easy.

And you, stop being lazy.

The Telling Our Stories project has given the members of the UMBC Women of Color Coalition (myself included) the opportunity to reclaim narratives that were written without them. It has challenged us to think critically about labels and microaggressions. We’ve discussed where these stereotypes come from and then participated in workshops to unearth the true natures of who we are. We are sisters, artists, intellectuals, comedians, introverts, extroverts, and progressives. We are ourselves.

I will now and forever continue to be unapologetically myself.

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