CONTRARY TO THE BELIEF, 2019
"I consider myself to be a poet and a storyteller, using my work to document my becomings, experiences, and thoughts as a young woman. I strive for all my work to tell a story, everything I create stems from a real experience or feeling. Contrary to Popular Belief, discusses the implications of the strong Black woman trope. We as Black women are often perceived to tough and callus. Young Black girls are expected to grow up faster. Black and angry are so often seen as synonymous. In this, many forget the humanity that lies behind a rough exterior, that real people with real feelings exist behind the false perception of anger. "
VERONICA ELIZABETH THOMAS in conversation with KIERA SONA
THOMAS: Is there a moment, or series of moments, you can recall from childhood, that has shaped the ways in which you engage with your hair?
SONA: As a child, my mother had been perming my hair for as long as I could remember. I didn’t even know what my natural hair looked like, nor had I ever seen a Black woman with natural hair that wasn’t straightened with heat, or in braids or weaves. I remember when I first stumbled upon a natural hair video on Youtube, while looking for ways to style my relaxed hair. Seeing how long, beautiful, and coily my hair could be—I was hooked and started transitioning my hair immediately.
THOMAS: PEASY is an homage to Black womxnhood. What does honoring your Blackness and womxn-ness in your everyday rituals look like?
SONA: For me, it looks like designating time each day for self-care and self-development — in the form of skincare routines, meditation, prayer, reading, being outside in nature, exercising, eating well, moisturizing or styling my hair, and so much more. This quarantine, especially, made me realize the value of time spent alone. I was forced to ask myself, “what do I really like about me?” and find ways to spotlight those things.
THOMAS: In what ways does your practice elevate your intention?
SONA: I think it’s really easy to get lost in this world. We, at times, move so quickly that we forget our own humanity. These practices put me back into my body, they force me to slow down and re-sync with my body and mind.
THOMAS: PEASY asks its audience to look beyond the imagery and into the soul of what it means to be a Black womxn - what does being a Black womxn mean / feel like to you?
SONA: For a long time being a Black woman made me feel dangerous—not in the sense that I felt others believed me to be a threat—but rather, I felt like a ticking time bomb. I was constantly collecting perceptions and judgments from the world around me and internalizing every little comment. I felt like I could explode at any moment. I was so affected, so volatile. Now, my Blackness, and my womxness feel easy; not because I get treated any better by others, but because I’ve made peace with my skin. Instead of viewing my skin as a shell to my character, I have managed to merge the two and recognize the integral role my skin color plays in my character. I am unmoved by outside chatter. I am comfortable in my visibility and in my ability to cause outrage without action.
THOMAS: Is there any message, feeling or intention you wish to communicate about your experience of Black womxnhood?
SONA: One thing I’ve learned is the experience in a Black female body—and in any body frankly—is exactly what you make of it. The moment I realized that popular culture and mainstream media couldn’t tell me who I was, or make me feel any way about the skin I am in, was the moment I became free from all the anger and inadequacy I felt in my younger years. Free yourself, give yourself the agency to just be, to just flow. It will reveal so many different facets of who you are, and unlock an inexplicable amount of possibilities!