Every teenager has an anti-social phase. I had mine when I was about 14 and it lasted a couple of years. Sure I spoke to people, went out and had friends but mentally I felt very disconnected to those around me. What I cared about, they didn’t. Things that irritated me didn’t affect them. Things I laughed about were not funny to them. I always felt like the orange in a sea of limes. We were all citrus fruits- the only difference being colour. Now, I say this both for explanatory purposes and also quite literally. A lot of my friends that I saw on a daily basis were not black and this meant that some of my experiences and concerns were not shared.
I couldn’t reminisce about shows like Sister Sister and Everybody Hates Chris with them nor could I recite lines from movies like Freedom Writers and Coach Carter. Conversations about the complexity of my hair were reduced to something others had watched on TED Talks, rather than an actual conversation. Crucially, I could never really pour my heart out about racial issues that really irked me. Friendships never felt strong because this common ground was missing.
So, I went searching for black female voices. For years ‘black girl magazine’, ‘black British girl magazine’ were regular google searches. Although I had some moments where I stumbled onto YouTube Channels like Madame Noire and shows on BET there was nothing that I felt that I could relate to completely (the closest I had come to was Ackee and Saltfish and the Strolling Series, both by Cecile Emeke) -but one magical day I found gal-dem.
I don’t remember how but one day I stumbled onto gal-dem’s interlude series on YouTube and my glee at hearing girls that looked like me and more importantly cared, thought and worried about the same things that I do, filled me with so much glee. I had unearthed pure gold. From that moment I was hooked, I wanted to know everything about gal-dem and fully immerse myself into the gal-dem community my younger teenage self so desperately desired, and perhaps really needed.
For those of you who don’t know gal-dem describes itself as a ‘creative online magazine comprising of almost 50 women of colour’ in simpler terms gal-dem is the most BOSS publication for and about British women of colour and after the launch of their first print edition I have to write a little something-something for Liv Little (the founder of gal-dem), her beautiful team and every woman that has contributed to the publication:
In gal-dem, I find a teacher, a sister and a friend.
I have always desired to learn about the experiences of other women of colour, but there can be a limit to how much you can ask in everyday conversation. Through the different experiences, cultures and points of view splayed out in gal-dem, I can empathise, criticise and most importantly, learn from.
Being part of a community where I have a lot of elders, sisterhood is important to me. Through gal-dem, I have many sisters. I learn from their mistakes, take in their words of wisdom and marvel at their successes. gal-dem is a beautiful community of sisters and even though I don’t agree with everything that is written, I admire it nonetheless.
“In gal-dem, I find a teacher, a sister and a friend.”
You know those moments when you’re feeling like an angsty, misunderstood teenager and then you hear that one song, read that one book, or watch that one movie where the stars seem to align?- that’s what gal-dem does for me EVERY SINGLE TIME. Just a few days ago, a gal-dem contributor talked about how she lived vicariously through late ’90s and early noughties music videos. Kelis and Cleopatra were just some of the names that received a shout out, and I could have screamed with relief because that was (and still is) me. It’s moments like that where you can revel in that common ground, that makes gal-dem so magical for me.
So to Liv Little (yes I’m going to keep on bigging you up girl), her wonderful team and to everyone who has contributed to gal-dem, I want to say a huge thank you. I’m sending you mad love for creating and being part of something that so many young British WOC really want and need.
Keep slaying mas!!!
Smile and Slay