Artist Statement:

For me, my identity has never been truly clear. I have always struggled with the concept of where I came from and why I couldn't relate to my heritage and cultures. Partly due to my parents never really exposing me to my family history or my culture openly, I had to resort to research of my own. I grew up in a neighbourhood that hosted all types of minority races but went to different schools all my life that were not as vibrant and were predominantly white. Growing up, I found myself in situations where my race was an issue and as a result my identity slowly started to fade because I was trying so desperately to fit in with my peers and deflect any stereotypes placed on me.Finding my identity and individuality going into woman hood has not been easy but rest assured I am on a path of self growth and self love. I can say confidently that I have made huge strides towards this goal and my current step is to find other individuals who have had similar experiences with racism and identity in their lives and show that embracing your blackness is necessary. I've shot a variety of black women, some that I know and some I don’t, at different ages and backgrounds in an environment they are familiar with and have experienced racism. I want them to have a connection to the space I shoot them in and to be dressed as their most authentic selves. As young black females, we grow up in a society that is not exactly catered to us, our looks, our names, etc. We are deemed minorities and sometimes too “ethnic” for our society. I want to really focus on subjects who have truly learned to appreciate themselves, their culture, and where they came from. Despite what others have told them they can and cannot do based on their skin colour or gender. I want to find the defining moment of when they stepped “into their black” so to speak and began to love the skin they're in. In much less words, I just want to illustrate that it takes courage to be who you are, embracing your blackness in this undoubtedly white society. I will be conducting short interviews with my subjects asking them how they’ve dealt with racism in the past, the first time someone ever pointed out they were different, and questions like when was their defining moment of realizing their self worth and feeling like they had something to offer to the world. Through the audio voices of my subjects will be overlapped intersecting and sometimes hard to distinguish voices to reinforce the idea of black women as a collective and having one voice.

- Aleia Robinson

I’d rather you look like a black girl trying to be white than a white girl trying to be black...
...this guy just kept beeping and as he turned, rolled his window down and said ‘you stupid muslim, go back to Iraq!!’ So, I just looked at him and said ‘UHM, I’M AFRICAN, if I’m going to go anywhere I’m going to back to Africa, but thanks for the tip.
We are certainly not seen as the standard of beauty, yet, all of our features are being adopted and co-opted but it’s not recognized in us, with us
 
My mid twenties I think was my defining moment with regards to not only how I viewed myself as black woman or a muslim woman but as a woman.
...It was after school, and I was on my way out and I felt this pressure against the back of my neck. It was this big boy, this big kid.. he was a bully. He had grabbed the back of my jacket and pulled me back.. he... he called me a nigger...
...I would get my report card and people would wonder ‘How?!’ What, I can’t be smart because I’m black? the kicker, also, when people find out I’m part Chinese.. ‘Oh, that’s why’...
...She had got upset with me over something and she was like ‘Well I don’t even know why I’m friends with you, you’re black.’ basically.. actually not basically, that’s what she said.
 

All images shot with Canon T5i (18-135mm lens)