With all the events happening in the world today and all the conversations regarding racism (that weren’t really being had the way they are now), I’ve been granted the unique opportunity to reflect on my upbringing and personal experiences growing up and being raised in Vancouver.
Before, I didn’t even realize how certain situations have shaped me or my outlook on what it means to be Black for me personally. Having spent the majority of my pre-teen and adolescent years living in predominantly white neighborhoods, I never saw how my environment played a part. There has and continues to be, plenty of unpacking of my internalized feelings on the subject. It’s hard for me to break it down and describe exactly what I have experienced and/or challenges that I have faced and overcome with racism because for me this has just been one part of my everyday life. This is just who I am.
With this being said, I have been able to reflect, acknowledge, and recognize the injustices that continue to happen every day — even here in my hometown. One thing I have come to learn over the years in living in Vancouver is that everyone faces injustices in a different way than my own personal experience. That’s the thing with being a person of color and being a minority; there are many privileged people that cannot put themselves in the place of others or sympathize with an experience outside of their own.
Living in Strathcona, I have witnessed firsthand the gentrification and erasure of the only Black community that was here in Vancouver. I appreciate the work that the Hogan’s Alley Society is doing to strengthen and preserve the historical roots in this city, taking the initiative to bring this community back to life to the diversity that it once had. Giving marginalized voices the opportunity to speak on problems faced in Vancouver and working towards a more safe, open community is a belief I hope to see grow within this city. It is something I respect greatly that The Hogan’s Alley Society continues to work to implement.
I wanted to wear these earrings that were from my grandma for my shoot with Lezè because I feel that they represent a trivial turning point in my life. They are one of the few physical tokens that symbolize growing out of my childhood-self and becoming. For me, they represent looking at the world with different lenses and a mature perspective on life. At the end of the day, I can only be appreciative of all these experiences and adversities that I’ve been able to overcome because ultimately, they have helped shaped me into the person that I am today. And I know how much stronger I am within myself because of it.
On 8/20/20, LEZE will be donating 100% of net proceeds to Hogan's Alley Society, as selected by Maya in support of our Black community.