Being Black, Young & Living In London.

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Black History Month.

Every year, precisely at this time year I feel an urge to write something moving. A thought provoking piece, filled with emotion. Emotions that push you to question yourself, emotions that make you feel something you didn't think possible. But every year I fail to do so. Black History Month is a month that gives me so much to write about being a black, young, female living in london. However, for some strange reason I never felt 'educated enough' or 'woke enough' to bring something to the table, which I now realise was complete rubbish and the only person holding me back was myself.

My knowledge on all things 'black history month' doesn't extend much further than what I was taught during my secondary school days and for a long time I felt guilty about it. My knowledge on Nigeria and its history doesn't really exist either and I realised this when my family and I went back for a holiday last December. Reflecting over this, part of me feels very disconnected from my 'heritage' but when I think about it, this is actually a very common thing. 
DRESS - Boohoo | BOOTS - H&M | BAG - Lekki Market

I'm grateful for my upbringing but sometimes part of feels like I missed out when my sister and cousins went to boarding school in Nigeria for a few years. It allowed them to not only experience real life in Nigeria but create memories together and grow stronger in their relationships. Not only that but they were able learn yoruba, something I wish I was able to do. I felt 'useless', almost when we went back and I could barely speak to locals or reply to family members back in my own language?

I guess this has all been a learning lesson and now I'm making a conscious effort to educated myself on it all so that next year when this month rolls around I'll feel like I a whole months worth of content to share with you.

So though I may feel like I don't know enough on Black History Month to educate you, although my experience being a black, young, female living in london hasn't been as intense or as much of a journey as I know some of yours have been, I thought I would educate on some and thank some of the amazing and powerful black women and men that I know and that are doing amazing things. 

1. In My Sunday Best - Sade (aka my older sister):
I'm sure you guys are probably tired of me shoving my love for Sade in your face but it has to be done. Some of you reading this may know Sade as my older sister and some of you may know her by her blog name 'In My Sunday Best'. Sade is one of the hardest working, selfless and strongest women I've ever come across.

I've watched Sade from the age of 7, (I was born seven years after her) grow and blossom into the woman she is today. I've watched her struggles, her breakdowns and breakthroughs and every week she finds a new way to amaze me. Just recently she was invited to 10 Downing Street to meet Theresa May for a gathering centered around Black History Month, how amazing is that? Her blog is something I know she has had a love/hate relationship but when I say the content she produces is out of this world I mean it. The way she is able to string words together and the fact she has always stayed true to her style is just some of the many reasons, I think her blog is amazing. She uses her platform and her experience to uplift, empower and reach out to other women of color and for that, I think she is amazing.

2. Emiola Stella D - (aka my my oldest sister):
A heart of gold. Have you ever met someone who has so much love for you, supports and champions you on so sometimes aren't capable of believing it? This person is Toyosi to me. During our family trip to Nigeria, Toyosi explained to me how she was starting her own organisation called 'N-Vest Africa'. The aim of it is to connect the skills and resources of volunteer partners with the need of local organisations (on the continent), to help increase impact and spur development.

Her purpose, when I asked her, for starting N-Vest Africa was because she believes in the great work that currently takes place on the content. Instead of being apart of the resource drain, her goal and intention is to have a sustainable impact. As well as that, her personal 'why' is because it is personal to her:

 "I love being of Nigerian/African descent and I want to see the country / continent I love, thrive."

I've watched her put so much hard work into this and I can't wait for this to take off and be as amazing as I know it will because when you put your heart into something it pays off. She is the definition of a strong and powerful woman to me because I know the journey and path she's been on, to stand tall, as the woman she is today. I find beauty in how she didn't let other people and her relationships with them define or stop her from thriving.

3. Olamide Odanye - Live Mentoring:
I had the pleasure of meeting Lamide during my first year of university and I'm so grateful that I have the pleasure of calling such a kind soul, one of my best friends. At just 20, Lamide is a co-founder of Live Mentoring which is a organisation that aims to: "Equip students in years 8-12 with necessary skills that bridge the gap between the education and the real world". Just take that in and imagine just how much time and planning goes into something like that?

I watched her put in so much hard work over the summer to pull of the conferences and workshops they put on. Watching her help shape the lives of these young children is one of the best feelings. I wish when I was younger that I knew things like this existed because maybe it could have made that change in me that I'm now years later, working on.She's done and achieved so many amazing things, I can't even think of where to begin but one other thing I can't pass up is the fact she's made it as an Essex Hero at our university and so now her face is plastered on the lift in the student center (go you!)

This post wouldn't be complete if I didn't link some young, black, london creatives who not only inspire me but make my head spin with their unmatched talent when it comes to photography:

4. Paula Abu, Eseabasi Ntefon, Enam Kamassa, Stafi Samaki and Ire Akinfisoye:
Where do I start with all of them? You know that moment when you see people on your timeline sharing their victories and it makes you feel warm and fuzzy on the inside? That happens for me anytime I see one of these guys tweet. Any picture they post, I am so quick to support. Not just because they're black, young and are london based creatives like me but because their work deserves every drop of recognition it gets. Their ability to capture raw emotion, beautiful editorials, the energy at concerts and the beauty of the people they shoot will always surprise me when they drop their new sets of photos.

Taking away their talent, these guys are some of the most down to earth people I've had the pleasure of getting to know/speak to/meet. They're all so kind and supportive and they motivate me each and every day to push myself and to not let my circumstances limit me because I am so much more. The fact that they're chasing degrees at the same time whilst doing all of this, also amazes me. Guy, please big yourselves up because I know that many amazing things are coming your way because you're all destined for greatness, I swear it.

Please check out their instagrams because I promise you, you'll be nothing less than impressed. 

- Paula
- Ese
- Enam
- Staf
- Ire

until the next post,
with love yossy 

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