“Dear White folks who are mad at Michelle Obama for saying Black Girls Rock,
I think I know why you are mad. You are not used to seeing other women rock because for centuries you’ve been told that only you do. Perhaps it is jarring to see that other people exist beyond being your sidekicks, model minorities, imaginary friends and false stereotypes that promote the myth of your supremacy. You see, unlike you, for 400 years Black women and girls have been told we don’t rock. Heck we’ve been told a lot worse. The thing is you’ve never known how it feels to be a Black woman in America. So this post is my meager attempt to show you.
Imagine how it feels being told every single day that because of the amount of melanin your skin, the world instantly assumes you are hood, ghetto, uneducated, immoral, lazy, a leech on government and violent.
Imagine knowing that these ideas are lies and regardless of who are and what you do, you can’t change that lie because you don’t control the image.
Imagine being told that your God-given tresses are ugly, unprofessional, unmanageable and bad hair. (Here, here and here.)
Imagine having to spend thousands each year on chemicals to straighten your hair, without knowing the health risks of burning and scarring our scalps just to be accepted.
Imagine not being the standard of beauty within your race. (Here)
Imagine watching shows, reading articles and hearing new studies where people say you are not marriage material simply based on the color of your skin. (Here, here, here and here)
Imagine people calling their racist stereotypes about you a preference.
Imagine knowing that some employers will not look at your resume because you have a Black sounding name. (Here)
Imagine hearing White women complain about making $.77 to a White man’s dollar when Black women only make $.64 and people rarely talk about it. (Here)
Imagine being told that regardless of your hopes and dreams that Black women are doomed to be backbone of your race.
Imagine the burden of constantly representing your race and then being the blame for your race’s ills when one person out of millions of Black people makes a mistake.
Imagine how it feels when people of your race make rap songs calling you bitches, hoes and anything but the child of god.
Imagine Black celebrities openly stating that they won’t date you because the your texture of hair, the darkness of your skin and because you are Black. But in the next breath they will use emotional blackmail because if you do not support their movie, album or book, Hollywood won’t hire Black leads. (Here, here and here.)
Imagine then marching, fighting and dying for the Black men, White women and others who ignore you because you are a Black woman. (Here and here.)
Imagine knowing that those same people will never march, fight or even die for you. They’d prefer to ignore you. (Here and here.)
Imagine having nonBlacks mock 400 years of rape, murder, broken families, state supported terrorism against you, income inequality and your ability to survive it all by calling themselves “a strong independent Black woman.” (Here and here)
Imagine how it feels when your existence becomes a joke made by Black male comedians to their White audiences. (Here)
Imagine how it feels to have to wait over 30 years to finally see a Black woman lead on TV. This time she wasn’t a slave, on drugs, a prostitute, a maid, struggling or a big mamma, with superhuman strength who was sassy and angry, but content with her pain because she’s overly religious. (Here)
Imagine having those new images questioned because all Black women are supposed to be angry, not classically beautiful, are told there are too many on TV and are supposed to be a stereotype. (Here and here)
Imagine how it feels to know that even though your family has been here for 400 years, your history is not considered standard American history. It is only recognized in February and even during the month of February being told that Black history heroes are all Black men. (Here)
Imagine how it feels to be ignored in America when 64,000 of our daughters, mothers and sisters are missing. (Here)
Imagine how it feels to be one of the 40-60% of Black women and girls who are sexually abused by the time they reach 18 years old. (Here)
Imagine how it feels to be suspended from school at a higher rate than your peers of other races who commit the same infractions. (Here and here)
Imagine how it feels to receive a higher prison sentence for the same crimes than your female peers simply because you have Black skin. (Here)
Imagine being told you are the blame for the country’s social ills when statistics show you are not.
Imagine having to write this post and explaining to someone whose image dominates the media and race controls the political, social and economic spheres why Black girls rock.
Imagine having you discount everything I said because deep down, you like things just the way they are.
After everything I have said (and I could go on), if Black women and girls being told by another Black woman that they rock offends you, check yourself and your insecurities. Instead of having a problem with Black Girls Rock, have a problem with the White supremacy that constantly tries to remind Black women and girls that we don’t. Direct your energy towards a world that refuses to recognize our collective humanity. If you did, we wouldn’t have to constantly remind Black women and girls that we are powerful, beautiful, worthy and full of love. You see, it is a revolutionary act to be a Black girl or woman who loves herself in a world where she is reminded that she should not. Even with every odd stacked against us, Black women and girls are thriving (see here, here and here). So yes, Black girls do rock.”
“Jackie laughed at the way people expected her to be dressed up like a cover for Vogue every minute of the day. She’d walk in a room with that wild dark mane of hers, toss off her shoes, and sit cross-legged on the floor. And everyone standing there would look at each other thinking ‘now what do we do?’” (Tish Baldrige). Jackie always said: “I love it when they get that panicky look in their eyes. Sometimes I feel like telling them, ‘no, I don’t wear a pill box hat to bed—but I do wear one when I bathe!’”