Being a black woman in Norfolk can be isolating

PUBLISHED: 11:02 07 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:18 07 December 2017

Wedaeli Chibelushi. Photo: Wedaeli Chibelushi

Wedaeli Chibelushi. Photo: Wedaeli Chibelushi

Wedaeli Chibelushi

I love Norfolk.

Wedaeli Chibelushi. Photo: Wedaeli ChibelushiWedaeli Chibelushi. Photo: Wedaeli Chibelushi

I was hell bent on staying here after graduating from UEA, and I have no current plans to leave.

However, I feel displaced now and then. I’m a black woman, so for me Norfolk life occasionally feels isolating.

If you’re reading this article in a public place, try playing Spot The Person of Colour.

One point per PoC.

Don’t be disheartened if you leave with nil points – the 2011 census found that Norfolk is 96.4pc white (85.9pc is the national average).

Since moving to Nelson’s county, I’ve become more confident in my identity as a black woman.

But, because barely any black women live here, I don’t have anyone to help me form this identity further.

White women share their distinct experiences often - think chats about the new Tresemme line, or how relatable hit TV show Girls is.

I’m excluded by conversations like this.

I often daydream about how nice it would be to talk to someone about misogynoir (the specific discriminations black women face).

And, of course, taming Afro hair.

It may sound frivolous, but hair is another challenge for me.

Black hair requires wildly different treatment from white hair; I can’t just pop into Crop Shop after a Primark splurge.

Black hairdressers are scarce and not very visible, so I’ve had to sniff them out without recommendations.

This dearth of reviews has led to some enlightening experiences, namely the time where a hairdresser near cremated my scalp with relaxer.

Being a black woman in Norfolk can be isolating, and sometimes the facepalm emoji is the sole way of communicating my experiences.

However, I realise that unlike black women in other parts of the UK, I’ve experienced little misogynoir in Norfolk.

There’s been the odd microaggresion, but no abuse.

No ridiculing, no fetishisation (bar the International Studies student who proudly told me he took women’s studies and African studies).

Overall, my life in Norfolk is pretty peaceful.

When I hear about the misogynoir faced by my non-Norfolk counterparts, I definitely don’t take my life here for granted.

Wedaeli Chibelushi is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about social politics and pop culture. She has bylines in The Independent, The Guardian, and VICE.

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