The first friend I ever made was a blue-eyed girl with straight hair and six dogs.
Yep, my first friend was a white girl. Elizabeth Fredison was the first person I ever saw who kissed dogs on the lips, got so pink faster that I could scream morning, and was the first person I buddy read with. It was inevitable that we would be friends because our parents were. For 9 years, we carpooled together, shared pudding, and exchanged books. We both loved Enid Blyton and the wind in the willows ( who didn’t?)
We were good friends that never saw black or white but just like-minded girls with a love of all things literary. The problem started when I started wanting straight hair. Bless my mother for being the definition of cool and not scolding but letting a whimsical naive black girl get some Dark & Lovely in her hair. You see, cinderella had straight hair and she probably didn’t curse when an afro comb made its way through her hair. That was a mistake! We have jokingly said my hair fell off because my ancestors were angry at me for hating my hair.
None of my favourite books was filled with heroes or heroines that looked like me and the tv shows were not helping. I didn’t know what I consumed shaped me till a dear friend exclaimed ‘ I was a coconut” and this was after she talked me into going home with her. Mind you, I was carpooling and my poor parents and the Fredison looked for me only for me to be taken home on a bicycle *laugh out loud* . You should have seen the grin on my face *I was ecstatic * but a turning point was on the horizon.
The colour purple turned up and changed my view of the world and it was Their eyes were watching god that came and sealed my love for romances. I wasn’t done because I now firmly believed that black people go through a lot and black people could fall in love. I was hungry for more but I wanted stories by my people (cue the Patrick Chakaipa’s). And then I met the fourth man I would fall in love with -Chinua Achebe. I have come a long way and don’t get me wrong I do not regret reading any book but I have changed the way I consume books.
I have been privilidged to have the honor of impacting our suprise gift that is my little sister. Because I buy her books I have made sure that her books have girls like her. It’s important that she reads books by women that look like her for her to believe that black girls run empires, black girls fall in love and there is no shame in melanin. As I write this she is reading A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. African and Black authored books matter to me because our stories are meant to be read and shared. It’s important that we realize that black girls eat shrimp, go on vacations, have great jobs, and fall in love