• Gabriela Valentina

Black Renaissance and It’s Importance


I remember my mum dressing me up with beautiful traditional garments when I was younger. At the time I never appreciated the effort she went through to make them tailor-made for me.

Twenty years ago, there was virtually no one on TV that looked like me, therefore there was little or no interest in wearing what my mum found ‘fashionable’.

Fast forward to when I became an awkwardly social teen, I put my foot down and all I would wear would be black – predominantly black T-shirts with rock bands on them. And to take my point even further I also made clear the fact that there would not be skirts nor shorts in my closet, which made my mum think I was a fully-fledged lesbian and was only waiting for me to come out. Though that still has not happened (coming out I mean) I eventually moved to the UK and at the age of 20 years bought my first dress in 8 years. 2018 has been a year of growth and understanding of my heritage, so for 2019, I promised myself that I’d get closer to my roots, not only through my mum but also through fashion, music, Pinterest and a bunch of bloggers.

Though I was already involved in the musical aspect of my Africanness I still had an issue with showing myself in native prints, not because my only understanding of African fashion is Ankara’s – trust me when I tell you African fashion is much more. But my issue was in showcasing something that was already pretty obvious, I am not white, in some ways I’m other, and showing it would mean a pride I did not have, because of my mainstream understanding of fashion and culture.

So I’m guessing that being in my mid-twenties finally helped me spark the fire that has always been there, it just needed extra help to ignite. But, in all honesty, this process did not happen all at once and did not happen by itself, surrounding myself with more black people has helped my growth, seeing people on social media proudly researching and understanding their heritage and culture helped me.

I strongly believe that yes in the past we all wanted to be part of the mainstream understanding of life, but millennials like you and I are reinventing what is mainstream, second-generation African children now dare to understand that being ourselves, appreciating and reclaiming the importance of ourselves is a priority.

And yes, we have come a long way, look at us hosting festivals such as Afronation and AfroPunk. Look at us being in the top 10 music charts. Look at the waves we are making with our Natural Hair Community, teaching white people how to take care of their curls.

Look at us embracing who we are and creating the community they never wanted to see for us and turning subculture into mainstream one step at a time.

Take care of you babe.

With Love,

Gabriela Valentina

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