If there was a beautiful dress that I loved, it was a white person wearing it. If someone was in an eccentric home, it was a white person living in it. If there was a person who was giving some tips on a new workout, it was a fit white person giving it. If there was a photo of someone traveling to Turkey, it was a white person going there. Therefore, I felt like I couldn’t do any of those things. I knew that way of thinking was absolutely wrong, so I made an alternative Tumblr to specifically follow black accounts. The more I saw people that looked like me doing things that I want or like to do, the more confident I became. My self-love evolved through other mediums too, but this was a prominent way of depicting it at the time.


Photo: Yvette Mushimiyimana

I’d be lying to myself if I re-posted that piece on black excellence because this is not where my self-love lingers. Seeing images of ‘excellent’ black people all over the media was relieving, but I wouldn’t say it’s liberating enough. Don’t get me wrong, I want to keep seeing us represented in the media and workplace because we are valuable and worth recognition. This representation continues to give me life. However, this ‘excellence’ title puts a pressure on me to prove something to the world. Yes, my blackness is amazing, great, beautiful and wonderful. But I’m beyond those words. I’m no longer comparing myself to those that don’t represent me. I am not better or less that anyone, and I don’t feel this desire to prove my beauty anymore. Instead, I am defining myself as Yvette and trying to find/create space to allow this current process to happen. What does it look like to be me? And is excellence constraining the dynamic ups and downs that I live?

black excellence
Photo: Yvette Mushimiyimana

Words like excellence don’t always give me that space. Excellence sees me as a high and mighty person who can do no wrong. I am up to date, I am in fashion and I’m doing it effortlessly. But I’m not top notch. I break down. I can be wrong. I make bad decisions. I don’t always fit what’s in fashion. I don’t deny the excellence of black people. But I can’t be branded with that word. I am a black woman with many other identities that twist and turn my habits. I am a black woman who has many ideas and no idea of what she’s doing in life. So give me space to break down and be a mess. Give me space to say the wrong thing and reflect. Just like I was searching for space to be someone in a lovely gown or that person who could travel to a country away from home.

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