By: Vernesha Hazel
The era of the multi-talented, educated, beautiful, “carefree” black girl could not have arrived at a better time in my life- or so I thought. Being exposed to various cultures and ideas is a rite of passage for all high school students that attend a school as diverse as the one I attend. I was never one to identify with many movements or join many clubs but the empowerment of fellow black girls was one bandwagon I easily jumped onto.
However, it was only after following every possible twitter page that claimed to empower black women and every YouTube sensation with the same skin color as I that I realized I was more different than the same as some of the women that I saw. Things that I saw black girls my age and older connect over, I was indifferent to. It was at this point that I suffered Identity Crisis 2.0.
My first miniature identity crisis was in middle school believe it or not. In middle school I was teased for the color of my skin as so many #darkskin girls are. But it didn’t end with the dark jokes. My “friends” claimed that despite the darkness of my skin, I was far from black. This arose many questions in me seeing as all my life I’d been black and I was trying to figure out what exactly changed.
Apparently, black girls didn’t read, speak like they had an education, or have an inside voice. Thus, I was labeled the extreme version of an Oreo and was called a ‘burnt cracker’. I was “white” but I just happened to get a little toasted. As much as I laughed alongside my peers when they made these remarks, they weren’t and still aren’t funny to me at all.
It wasn’t funny to me that somebody else was telling me who to be. In the seventh grade, I thought peer pressure was reserved for drugs and alcohol but I was being proven wrong. I couldn’t tell whether I was being stubborn for not acting like a typical black girl, or if I was just being myself. The lines were really blurred for me. To this day, I still receive grief for simply being myself. I still receive comments such as “you’re quiet for a black girl” and “you talk like a white girl” and others that make me roll my eyes so hard, I think they’ll get stuck.
Fast forward to present day. A few months ago, when I jumped on the black girl empowerment train, I realized again that I was at a loss. I sat at home on Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube and watched girls talk hair products,bronzer, and coconut oil, feeling completely disinterested.
This time around, it wasn’t someone else telling me I wasn’t black enough, it was me telling myself I had some catching up to do. So, I got in touch with my melanin, invested in edge control, bought a bottle of Cantu Daily Moisturizer, and even put cucumber in my water and told myself it was time to buck up.
The only issue was, my heart wasn’t in it. I love my hair, in fact my hair is my pride and joy and I would do anything to ensure its health, but I couldn’t bring myself to talk hair mask and coconut paradise smell good products all the time. I didn’t think shrinkage was an issue that needed to be addresses. Ever.
I became ashamed because I didn’t know half of the black actors, actresses, singers, songwriters , celebrities that other black girls knew. I just knew I loved music and crime tv. I didn’t even know the definition of an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) until my sophomore year of high school, I just knew that I wanted to go to college. I love my skin color but I wasn’t always in the mood to tweet about the melanin God blessed me with. I just wanted to be.
When I finally thought myself a lost cause, and when I finally thought I would never make it to optimum black girl status, it hit me. There isn’t a verse in the bible or a rule in the universe that states that black girls must be identical. As black girls today, we find ourselves bombarded with attention- whether it’s love and encouragement from our fellow black girls or slander from those on the outside looking in.
It’s almost impossible to not have others’ opinions on how we should be, intruding on our thoughts and personal convictions. Thankfully, a majority of society has abandoned the unflattering stereotypes of black women and the era of the multi-talented, beautiful, educated, “carefree” black girl has arrived. Eyes are finally being opened to the fact that we come in different shades and hair textures.
However, our personalities are assorted as well and can be just as varied as our curl pattern. The fact of the matter is that I’m black whether I assert that fact or not. We all see posts about black women coming in different shapes and sizes. We come in different mindsets too- with different personalities. We don’t need to be uniform to be sisters. Once I came to the realization that our melanin is what unites us, not necessarily our personalities, I felt so much better.
In the television show Sister, Sister; sisters Tia and Tamera are identical twins. Despite this fact, they are almost nothing alike. They have different interest, priorities, etc. At the end of the day, they’re still sisters. At the end of the day, we’re all still sisters.