Before she left the house with her natural afro, Jumess Dinanga used to practise what she would say to the bullies.
“I would feel so much anxiety, so before I stepped outside I would be running through the reactions that would be given to me for having my natural hair out,” she said.
Growing up in Melbourne’s outer-western suburbs during a time of media-fanned moral panic around African gangs, Jumess did everything she could to suppress her heritage.
“I used to get bullied about my nose, my lips, and my hair, so they were huge insecurities for me,” she said.
“There are a lot of things that you start hating about yourself.”
After being subjected to recurring racist acts, Jumess’…