By: Matebogo Kubeka
‘Black girl magic!,”Black girls rock!”,”Strong black woman!’
But what is it? A ‘black girl’? To many, this is really black and white. But to us that have struggled with this idea for years, this is layers and layers of questions.
We can speak of colourism- you know, The light skin vs dark skin ‘wars’? We can start by discussing the struggle little girls have, and had, when learning that their skin was not ‘beautiful’ enough because that’s what the world said. The world around them praised the light in the complexions of cousins, friends and siblings in the words of their parents, their relatives and their friends. We can decipher the wording, the connotations to ‘light’ and ‘dark’… fair and foul… did you think white and black, good and evil, pure and d i r t y…?
Oh but that’s not fair right? They do praise dark skinned girls- on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram! Surely you saw how many likes she got, how many shares it got, all the “beautiful!! <3” comments piling up on her page. Sure, they do talk about the aesthetics; but the praise of dark complexion is behind the keyboard- until those keyboard heroes become real world citizens, only then we hear the true criticism.
Okay then, what about her hair? “Well it must be contained and tied down, not wild!! This is a school, for goodness sake, we pride ourselves on looking neat”. Okay. And I mean, this must be true right? we’ve all seen the black girls with “the good hair”… you just thought of it, didn’t you?
Does it look like her wool textured, tangled, coily afro? But again she’ll just feed off the praise of the keyboard heroes; they will get her through the day, numb the looks, fight for her right to regular prices at the salon regardless of the rule that “its extra for thick hair”.
Did you see, in the fine print? Our keyboard heroes have a condition for the aesthetic validation and validity of this afro. It MUST be soft, and it MUST be able to move; you know, blow in the wind, bounce?
But let’s leave that, let’s rather talk about our beautiful black bodies! You know, the ones that they’ve been warning her are defined by everyone but themselves; disrespected, sexually symbolized and objectified? The tiny waist, thick thighs, full hips and don’t forget ‘dat ass though!’ This clearly realistic proportional hour glass figure woman is a black woman!
Tell this to the skinniest teenage girl in the group, the one trying to define herself and now feeling that she’s not woman enough for her assigned race because she wasn’t ‘blessed with that ass’. I mean “where are her curves”, and shame, “what would the poor guy hold on to?”…
Well here she is, a black girl who’s trying to define herself in a world where they say she’s a queen because courage pumps through her veins; have you heard what her ancestors faced and overcame?; But then they turn right around and tell her she talks about her blackness “too much!”- they say she’s supposed to rock, be magic, and to believe it; but they also tell her that the complexion she did not choose, the body she did not choose and the hair she did not choose, is not good enough for the race she did not choose but is somehow supposed to embrace.
All she wants to do as a 13, 14,15,16.. year old teenager is to stand at the highest point of the word, microphone in hand, accompanied by the mother of all speakers and yell, “World please see that for me, it is difficult to stand confidently and define myself while you are busy defining me!” Page one of that damn magazine tells her to love herself, while page two shows her how to change it.
But look, she grows up, she learns and unlearns; the ‘they says’ – she absorbs and discards; and what matters most now, is what she says, what she sees, what she accepts. Now this black girl, Honey this black girl knows she rocks because she said she does; and its only when she said so that she believed and inevitably, became. She looks at her fellow sisters- light, dark, skinny, thick, afro or weaved and they can say together in one accord,
Queen, You have always been MORE THAN ENOUGH.