NXT Superstar Bianca Belair was this week’s guest on Chasing Glory with Lilian Garcia. Belair opened up about her struggles with racism in the real world, how it caused her to embrace black culture, growing up poor and much more. Highlights appear below.
(Transcription Credit: Michael McClead, WrestleZone)
On Whether She Identifies As Black Or African American:
I always say being black or African American, there are so many different ways of being black or African American. There’s not one person who can be a spokesperson for everyone. I think it’s complex. I think it has a lot to do with racial identity. I feel whatever makes you happen to choose, have a positive racial identity, whatever you want to be identified as, whatever makes you feel positive about yourself, whether you want to be identified as black or African American. To me, it doesn’t matter. I find positivity in both of them. It really depends on the individual and what they prefer.
I honestly prefer either one. I have no problem being identified as black. If someone asks me what I am, I would probably say that I’m black. That’s just what comes out of my mouth first. Either one is positive for me.
On Struggles With Racism:
I really didn’t struggle with it until I started getting out into the real world and honestly, that’s when. It kind of hit me later on. Even now, with social media nowadays, you have people that say not so nice comments and they will talk about my hair, or my skin color, and things that, to me, are normal. What’s wrong with my hair? Where I grew up that’s how everybody’s hair was. That’s just a small detail of it, but for a minute it made me second guess myself. I started looking at my hair differently. I started playing with my hair differently. I started really paying attention to details that I didn’t pay attention to before because it was the norm for me. But what it actually did was that it encouraged me to always give myself affirmations. I went deeper into self-love. I actually started realizing that a lot of things I viewed as being normal in my culture growing up, I actually started embracing it more. I realized that this is special, our culture is special. Stuff that we view as norm is special and it’s something that I embrace and that’s why I embrace all of it, all different types of black. There’s no one way to be black and every type is positive. I embrace every single aspect of it.
Belair On Growing Up Poor:
The hardest struggle for me growing up happened when I was very young. We didn’t have a whole lot of money growing up, but I was too young to even realize it, if that makes sense. My parents did a very good job at hiding it. Looking back at pictures, there are photos of me where I’m wearing a lot of hand me down clothes, but they’re my brother’s clothes, so I would have boy shorts on….my mom would try to balance it out with a little crop top to make me look girly. We struggled a lot when I was younger. I remember we didn’t have a kitchen sink, so my mom had to wash the dishes in the tub. We didn’t have shelves in the kitchen. We lived in a house that was kind of halfway done….my dad cut bed sheets up and put curtains up on the shelves. We didn’t have a whole lot of money…..we actually moved into our house when I was 6 or 7, but my grandmother actually bought the house for us. My mom just paid her back money. My parents sacrificed a lot…..my parents struggled, but they didn’t let us know. Growing up, my parents just hid it from us. It’s harder for me to deal with now because I feel like I took it for granted.