On how to be an unapologetic professional black girl

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Two weeks ago, democratic strategist and CNN commentator Symone Sanders spoke at N.C. Central University as part of the 2017–18 Rock the Mic lecture series.

I was honored to attend this event and have Symone speak with us. I left feeling inspired: she spoke with confidence to be loud, witty, and unreserved with her message. She was truly an unapologetic black girl. Despite her ease, I often find myself wondering how people like Symone are able to unapologetically be themselves to this degree, still get great jobs and be respected.

I see myself constantly performing the act of code-switching when I go into a different environment. In the back of my head, I keep telling myself don’t do this and don’t do that in an effort to avoid someone perceiving me poorly.

I know I am amazing and talented and just want this to be shown when I am with unfamiliar people. Being around my friends and being able to have this uncontrollable laughter and conversations that turn into friendly yelling back and forth create moments that are so natural and comfortable. Sometimes I ask myself where does this pressure come from.

Is it society? Am I overthinking about it?

Studying Symone Sanders, she is bold, accurate and intelligent while managing to let her personality shine through. I love my personality and know I have what it takes to succeed in a professional realm, but how do I get out of my own head and stop the jitters?

As these thoughts of self-doubt run through my head — don’t say this word, don’t say that, say it differently — my face and body language show a calm, poised young lady. I don’t show my emotions, but the feelings and the questions still remain. How can I show what it means to be genuinely be me and be seen as professional as well?

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