Demanding Liberation

Bukky is a high school student in Idaho and a youth activist and organizer at the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, a prevention organization that engages communities and youth to understand the intersections between all oppression.

My name is Bukky, I am 16 years old and I go to school in rural Idaho. I am a part of my school’s Speech and Debate program and play Varsity basketball and volleyball. I live with my parents, my older brother and my younger sister. Both of my parents have professional degrees and work in the medical field. As it shows, I have the All-American life and for the longest time, I always used that to hide myself. I thought, “If I could just blend in as much as possible, then no one would realize that I am an outsider”, and for the life of me, I didn’t want to be an outsider.

What made me an outsider you might ask? I mean, why would I be an outsider? I am an athlete, I participate in extracurricular activities, I have good grades, I’m cool with my administration and teachers; my life is good. So why would I be worried of not fitting in? Well, when you’re in the locker room and you constantly hear, “Oh wow Bukky! You’re so black. You jump like a legit monkey”. Or, when you’re in a debate round and the first thing your judge says is that your name is “too black” for them to pronounce. Or, when you’re in an American (White) History course and the topic of slavery comes up and all of a sudden, you’re Hermes for black people and fitting in is all you want, or at least, what I wanted. I decided to take everything that people said to me and swallow it, internalize it.

I soon became very self-deprecating; I hated my black skin, I hated my hair, I hated that I was automatically the antagonist in a story still being written. But eventually, something changed. I realized that my blackness was not just a felony to America: it is beauty, it is love, it is light, it is magic. When I finally realized that I can no longer stay silent, I can no longer be content with being in the shadows (because the shadows were not made for the black skin to hide behind), I felt liberated. It is my job as a person of color, especially as a woman of color, to work to prevent other individuals from thinking they are less human due to their identities. That is why I do the work I do and that is why I have to do the work I do. If other people in the same position as me hadn’t introduced me to the topics of self-love and social justice to prevent internalized racism and self-hate, I wouldn’t be the kind of person I am today: a person that demands change in every step she takes.