What if being different is the best strength each of us have? BRAND(ED): The Little Survival Guide of a Liberian Black Woman in Paris, is a little book I want to leave to the next generation of black women and more specifically, Liberian black women all around the world.
My name is Laura Brown and I grew up in France, where the Liberian community makes up less thanWhat if being different is the best strength each of us have? BRAND(ED): The Little Survival Guide of a Liberian Black Woman in Paris is a little book I want to leave to the next generation of black women and, more specifically, Liberian black women all around the world.
My name is Laura Brown, and I grew up in France, where the Liberian community makes up less than one percent of the African immigrant population. This means that the community in which you can secure and pass on opportunities is very small; the only recourse left to you is to create and build your own opportunities with almost zero outside help. I am the daughter of Nyennetu Santos Brown (also called Santos Maria or Legend by his fans as he was a famous Liberian soccer player in the 70’s/80’s) and Grace Perry Brown.
When being part of a diaspora living in another country, assimilation was one of the rare options for our parents. It helped them find peace while working and securing their families’ futures. Luckily for me, they made sure we never forgot where we came from and taught my sisters and me the value of our roots. Yet and still, I had to maneuver within a very competitive and hostile environment. I took it as a game, experiencing life and realizing that assimilation will never make other communities accept you – it might just make the day go by more easily.
After the year that was 2020, I decided to write this Guide for black women because I see racism and discrimination being more visible and present than ever. I wrote the Guide by taking from my place of secret stories that need to be shared today. Why? Because hatred, racism, and discrimination will never end. It started more than 400 years ago, and I don’t see progress – I see only mutations and evolutions.
Therefore, similar to how weapons were placed in people’s hands for defense, we need to put tips, knowledge, and words of wisdom in the ears, minds, and hearts of our children as survival tools to help them live and thrive in a world where racism, sexism, and discrimination of all sorts are norms. We saw these norms play out earlier this month when the US capitol building was overtaken by white supremacists, all while being watched by cops who were scared of them. In March 2020, when France went into lockdown, I had little to no work or possibilities to see my parents. It was then I realized that I could die, not knowing where I come from. I realized how assimilated and colonized I was – in a way that prevented me from discovering where my family tree started, out of fear. I made peace with that because systems and their oppression through culture, instruction, and education are powerful.
But willpower is even stronger, and traumas like a pandemic can literally change your life – putting you back on track from the inside out. So, I started to comb through my whole life in detail, and I realized that I had developed techniques to be able to reach my goals and grow – being able to navigate in a harsh environment and being a Liberian Black Woman was a gift. As migrations will get more and more intense, we might see more people circulating in places where they are not from, and instead of constantly fighting to be at a table where we are not wanted, it is sometimes easier and more efficient to build your own table, even in a kingdom that isn’t yours.
I wrote this Guide to empower Black Women all around the world, especially Liberian Black Women. I want to share the tools I have gathered during my life’s journey and help them overcome the challenges thrown at them because of who they are.
You can purchase a copy of BRAND(ED) here.