As a young Black woman, I feel so fortunate and blessed to be in the skin I’m in and to have the life I have. I come from a strong foundation and family background that has helped cultivate the woman I am today. Culture, creativity, education, a robust work ethic, and consistently striving for excellence have been the ingredients that have continually contributed to my #blackgirlmagic.
Although I’ve struggled with insecurities, wondered if I was good enough, and questioned so much about myself while trying to tune out the noise of different people in this world who have told me I’m not, and will never be, enough, it has been my desire to shift false claims and narratives about women of color. More specifically, to shatter different stereotypes about Black women.
The reinforcement of harmful and damaging messages about Black women can make life challenging. Even when used as a source of satire, parody, or humor, the narrative about us being on welfare, trying to make it out of the “hood,” or living to be someone’s “baby mama” (it would be nice if we could retire that phrase someday) are just a handful of examples that aren’t true.
While some people can’t help their circumstances and need extra support and assistance, it still doesn’t excuse the poor treatment and labels that follow us all.
We’re not all angry and aggressive.
We’re not all uneducated.
And we’re not all loud, ghetto, or obnoxious, either.
I’m not entirely sure where the root of these stereotypes came from; I just know they’re not completely based on truth.
Yes, sometimes we get angry, but we’re not all in a perpetual state of anger.
What woman hasn’t been angry about something at some point in her life? It’s a normal emotion. However, when a Black woman is angry, the perception is that she’s moody, mean, and in a perpetual state of anger, which couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yes, some things make me angry; however, I don’t live in a state of anger because I know that doesn’t serve me or anyone around me.
We’re not all uneducated, struggling, and living in poverty.
I’ve sometimes felt awkward fielding questions about my qualifications for career opportunities, additional questions about my education, and occasionally ridiculous and outrageous inquiries about what my upbringing must have been like as a little Black girl.
Much to the surprise of those who’ve asked me questions, I’ve been happy to share that I grew up in a two-parent home where I was safe, loved, and always provided for. I was able to attend school and continue into higher education as an adult.
And I’ve taken on different workplace roles where I earn a livable wage, own property, and am in a position to fully support myself financially. So all this to say, many Black women are doing just as well, if not better, so stereotypes about us not being smart, struggling to make a living, and not coming from stable family environments are incorrect.
We’re not all prototypes of what you see in mainstream media.
While I have nothing personal against the machine of reality television and have occasionally enjoyed tuning into it, mainstream media often portrays Black women in a negative light.
Tune in briefly to almost any reality or scripted television show, any other popular entertainment platform featuring a predominantly Black cast, or even just a sprinkle of Black women; the Black female cast is often villainized and deemed loud, ghetto, and obnoxious.
This becomes a bigger issue when non-Black viewers see this in the media and then begin characterizing and stereotyping Black women. It results in the perception that all of us are exactly the same. The negative stereotypes then make their way into our workplaces, neighborhoods, and society. And that’s not okay.
Black women are so much more.
Yet, our voices are silenced. Our stories get buried. We are encouraged to censor ourselves and our pain while others try to define who they think we are.
I want to be a part of the movement that shatters the different stereotypes surrounding women who look like me. This won’t be easy to take on, but I’m game and will do my best to shift things in a more positive direction.