One time for the wins…
2014 has been a rough year for people of color around the world. And with so many of us feeling like our voices have been stifled due to majority supremacy theories and blatant attacks on our peers, it can be hard to see the good that some of us are producing.
Before we get to the amazing video that I have for today’s read, I wanted to share a little story on why cultural representation matters, whether you’re in the spotlight or not.
A few months ago, I shared an inspiring story on Facebook that I figured was appropriate for today’s topic.
While I was sitting on a busy 4 train in the Bronx a few months ago, a little girl, no more than 8 years old came up to me. “I like your dress, are your coming from work?” I replied to her with a smile, “Yes, I am!” She responded with a confused grin, “Oh that’s cool! I like your hair. It looks like mine. But I thought you couldn’t go to work like that because I was told it was ugly. I wish I could. My teacher said I have to make my hair look nice for school.”
I looked at this girl, a tiny brown skinned beauty with big, optimistic eyes and couldn’t help but wonder why no one felt the need to tell her that she is enough. “Honey, you were born to break and make new rules. You and your hair are absolutely beautiful, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” I said to her after a slight pause. She then flashed an adorably large smile that made my heart leap. “You’re right, I’m a princess too! Who cares!”. I laughed and said “Exactly! And you’re royalty, they can’t tell you what to do!” She then told her mom that she wanted to make her hair look like mine when she went to summer camp the next day and her mom humbly agreed. We chatted about routine for a minute and then the little girl said “Thank you! I’m gonna tell all of my friends that I met another princess just like me tomorrow!!” as she hugged me and got off at her stop …
When we have movies like Exodus, deemed as blockbusters by the Hollywood elite, while perpetuating the notion of white-washing history (not a single black face played a member of the royalty, which we ALL know is false), it creates a false sense of. Most children, (myself included) didn’t know that Egyptians were an African people; that they didn’t have straight hair and noses with blue eyes. It’s time to let little black girls and boys everywhere know that their history matters and isn’t necessarily what they see on the big screen.
Which leads me to today’s read. I know that black girls are often the subject of jokes and ridicule and most of the time, we let it roll of our backs for the sake of trying not to go insane with all of the negativity we face. However, while in the midst of that twitter roast of Viola Davis taking off her wig on national television, I challenge you to remember that not all that long ago, most networks would’ve swiftly disregarded (and probably cancelled) such a powerful moment. Seeing beautifully strong and aggressive women of color on our TV sets and in our music industry becoming role models for ALL girls is something that we continue to fight for daily – and should be greatly appreciated by all. It matters who our children grow up seeing. Because like it or not, our children ARE influenced by the media and they DO idolize the people they see while flipping through certain tv stations or looking at teen magazines. Why not give them someone that they can relate to you to? Continue to promote artists that believe in their roots and an accurate portrayal of what our culture actually is.
Watch the video that inspired me to write this post below. The incredibly talented songstress, Janelle Monae, becomes completely enthralled with the idea that another little black girl actually wants to look and be like her – not the white washed standard that the media sets for girls everywhere. Our hair, our skin, our body – WE are enough. Continue to promote valid portrayals of women of color and give the next generation an accurate account of the culture. It matters. And though it may seem like we’re collected more losses than wins, black girls have been and will continue to win. Wear your culture proudly.