All of this could be traced back to the difficulty I’ve had with defining my identity. I have an incredibly ethnically diverse background: with roots from the United States, France, Cameroon and Martinique. As a little girl, I was so proud of coming from all over, but as I grew up, it got harder to forge my identity. In school, a girl told me to “go back home” as I didn’t “belong in France”. It confused me so much; I always thought I was as French as everyone else. Then, when I visited Senegal, I realized I wasn’t ‘African’ enough, as I was seen as a privileged light-skin girl who had a funny accent. Too light in Africa and too dark in France, it was really hard to find my place.
As time passed by, I was fortunate enough to come across artists like Toni Morrison and Maya Angelou, who spoke of characters that I resonated with. Women that looked different from those around them; who dreamt of blue eyes. I was exposed to women that embraced their natural appearance: their hair, their skin colour, their everything, and celebrated who they were. They inspired me in countless ways and as a result, instilled a comfort with my identity that I sought after for so long. Defining oneself is an ongoing process. Continue to be proud of who you are. You’re unique.
Ines L. Dubois is from Bordeaux, France. She lives in Montreal where she’s currently finishing her Bachelor of Arts at McGill university. She majors in political science and has a double minor in communications studies and North American studies.
Photo Creds: Lisa Kristina