By Ntongo Kiwanuka (Miss)

Now, by definition, as a beautiful Urban Bush Babe, you defy the stereotype. But, you are only human, and as a human you will have moments of doubt and lack of courage. I’ll admit that I certainly do.

But listen up, Urban Bush Babe, you are not alone.

So, what’s the good news? Stereotypes are a fallacy. They don’t exist. They are made up to make you and I feel insecure, or limit our personal and creative growth, which is so vital to not only our own progress, but the progress of our communities and humanity as a whole.

Do you momentarily fall victim of the stereotype that you were branded with those many years ago by classmates in the playground, friends at a party, or even well-meaning relatives? I do, so I understand how you feel.

I don’t want you to just read this article, get fired up, and then let that passion die. Do something. This little exercise will not take long (about 5 minutes maximum).

Make a list of the stereotypes that you have been labelled with throughout your life. It doesn’t matter how long or short this list is. What do you feel like when you read this list? Inspired? Annoyed? Does this look like an outdated image of your former self?

Next, write a list of the big things that you would like to achieve, but have not tried out because you are too self-conscious about what others will think. Don’t hold back. Think big. Perhaps you want to do the longest walk in stilettos, run for the presidential election with your hair in an afro, live on the moon, create the next biggest statue in the world.

In a separate column, write down the adjectives that describe the types of people who do these things. How do the two lists match up?

Now ask yourself if the following people would have achieved what they have achieved if they had been scared of upsetting the stereotype:

Carlos Acosta, Afro-Cuban world class ballet dancer

Cortlandt Van Rensselaer Creed, M.D., the first African American student to graduate from Yale

Michèle Crider, Black Soprano

Andre 3000

So, how do you slay the self-restricting stereotype? You look at where you want to go and who you want to be right now. Don’t worry about what might or might not happen later. Break things down into manageable steps and do a little each day. Do you want to express your flamboyant side more by wearing more extravagant clothes? Perhaps start by wearing one bright item of clothing each day. What will happen? You will wear that shocking pink jumper to the supermarket and let your hair loose. NOBODY WILL BATTER AN EYELID.

There are so many facets to your personality, so many undiscovered talents, suppressed passions and skills that are just desperate to burst out, if only you would let them.

Remember this: you are a unique, ever-evolving, undefinable individual. Defy the stereotype.

PS Cipriana I love your Martin Luther King quote. Here is another one:

‘Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.’
Martin Luther King, Jr.

PPS Nikisha

‘I am not a black artist, I am an artist.’
Jean-Michel Basquiat

Peace and love,

Ntongo Kiwanuka (Miss)