A place where Black Mothers can celebrate excellence and motherhood.

Black Girl Freedom

I think I can speak for many black women, myself included on how stressful it can be growing up as a black girl. At age 25, I realize I'm still facing some things from my childhood and teenage years that are hindering me becoming a better woman. To be a black girl and woman in this country is draining. We are constantly being observed, poked and prodded for our mental, emotional and most importantly physical state. We don't realize that the room we give ourselves (black people) to be free and experience life as they see fit is small but the room for black girls and women is even smaller. 

My passion in conflict resolution is to bring together our community and work together as we heal, teach and learn to love one another. My passion lies further into creating safe spaces for black children, especially black and brown girls to be who they want to be. For them to show and communicate emotion,  and to become human again as they once were before they were old enough to have their own experiences with people. The work that I do calls for me to be restorative not just with other adults and children but with myself, my family and my children specifically. 

So imagine my surprise last week, when my oldest daughter Tatiyana sent me a video of her riding her bike successfully as my mother cheered her on. I felt so proud I thought my heart would burst. I instantly thought back to when I, at age 7 learned how to ride my bike (my amazing sister taught me.) I remember the joy I felt, the freedom and thinking about how much fun I was going to have riding up down different alleys, the wind blowing through my ballies and barrettes. Then I got sad, because I thought about how in this day and age black girls are constantly facing more threats than black boys at home, in their neighborhoods and their schools and how the only way my daughter could feel that freedom is as long as I'm outside and she's in my eyesight. Simply because the fear of someone taking her or worse, being assaulted by a police officer who thought she was older or agressive is stronger than the desire to let her truly feel that freedom i felt. 

To put things into perspective a report published in 2014 by the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) addresses the wide discipline gap created in the school system between girls of color and their white counterparts. To date, black girls are 5.5 times more likely to be suspended than their white counterparts and 3 times more likely to be suspended than black boys (NWLC, 2014). They make up 18% of the U.S. school system, yet 35% percent of the law referrals and 31% of school based arrests. Thats 29% higher than their white counterparts. The reason for suspension? 'willful defiance' which is coded language for they were being "loud", "aggressive" or "threatening." which are characteristics typically assigned to black girls and women. This is problematic for many reasons including the girls missing school, being alienated from their class and also become more at risk to being entered into the justice system (school to prison pipeline.) 

We see the impacts of rape culture on black girls because we experience puberty faster. From an early age many of us are conditioned and taught we have no say in our body. As society would have it, black women and girls are only here to do the emotional and physical labor of everyone. We are Americas workhouse and sex slave. We are told "go kiss Uncle Buck!" Regardless how uncomfortable we feel, our family forgetting we have a right to our body, our personal space and deciding who comes into our bubble even if it is mommy and daddy, regardless of our age. We are taught early on that our bodies, are our fault and never mind that we've been put in harms way but that we somehow wanted it. We looked GROWN and acted FAST.
 Black women are associated with voluptuous assets and so our girls yet again face the issue of policing and body shaming for wearing clothing deemed "too short" or "revealing" that their white counterparts wear and are accepted. This idea that black women and girls must live a life of modesty whether intentional or not to assimilate into the standards of western feminism (which is centralized in white womanhood.) This is also an 'indicator' of our value and innocence *eye roll*. 

Another report recently released by Georgetown Law this past June, presents data on Black girls seen less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers. Black girls specifically between the ages of 5-14 are believed to need less nurturing, protection, know more about adult topics and to "know more about sex" the researched was gathered based on a survey given to 325 adults of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. As a black woman and as a black mother this is troubling because I see my sweet baby as a beautiful angel curious and ever growing in this cruel world, adults who are supposed to protect, teach and love her in my absence project onto her the image of a young sexual, deviant prowess. That scares me.

It's time we have a conversation. It's time we start calling out problematic friends and family members who do not understand that black girls have a right to their bodies. It's time we start calling out toxic masculinity that damage the image of black women and girls. It's time we stop making excuses and staying silent out of fear. 

While some of this information is new much of it is not as these assumptions and biases are rooted in slavery and white supremacy , I wonder if we as black girls and women will ever be able to get to a place where we can be vocal without being labeled angry (even if we are angry, rightfully so), demand space without being labeled aggressive, love our bodies without them being sexualized and monitored. Most importantly, be able to learn, grown and experience what it means to be a child without having that taken away.
I say all of this to say, black girl love on yourself today. Love on another black girl today. We need it. Most importantly, we need each other.
Drop some love below.
I'll be in touch 

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