Recently, former NAACP Chapter President Rachel Dolezal posed as a Black woman to become president and kept up this charade for eight years — until she was recently and very publicly outed by her parents.
In seemingly unrelated news, the Twitter discussion, #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl, was birthed last Friday. I got a chance to see what Black girls of all ages had to say about this and several issues were addressed, such as the stereotypes about our attitudes, how we dress, and how we want to be like white women, among other things.
This topic got me thinking: how does it feel to be a Black girl? So I took to the streets of Atlanta and asked other Black women and girls about being a Black female.
I interviewed a variety of Black women and girls and, of course, got a variety of answers because no black girl is the same. As an African-American child, Nzinga Parham, 7, had already seen the world at its not-so-finest. Though she hadn’t experienced discrimination, her parents and the world had already told her the reality — the reality that the world is less than perfect and you have to fight for what you really want in life. Despite this, she was still able to love herself.
“I like my skin color because it’s brown,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what skin color you are, just as long as you’re nice.”
As the day went on, I spoke to black women of diverse ages and peculiar circumstances and learned what it was like to not only be black but also to be a woman.
Tiara Requena, a 23-year-old bartender, is what most Americans describe as “light skinned.” She said she had experienced more racial prejudice and negativity from black people. Some would say to her, “You talk too white,” or ask, “Are you mixed with something because you don’t look black?”
One that resonated with me the most was, “You talk too white.” I too, have been told this, yet I never understood how “white” was how you talked — I only understood it to be a color. Requena mentioned perceptions of beauty as they relate to black women, saying, “Media undermines black beauty.”
As black girls and women, we have definitely seen how media can portray us and the double standard between black and white women. Dolezal’s so-called transformation is ironic because being a black women in the public sphere can have such a negative connotation. I personally believe it’s funny how when Zendaya, star of Disney’s K.C Undercover, chose to wear dreadlocks the media and specifically Giuliana Rancic said must have smelled of “weed” and “patchouili” yet when Kylie Jenner, star of E!’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians, did it –it is called “trendy” and “cool”.
My mother always told me I automatically had three strikes against me when I was born. One was that I was black. The second was that I was a girl. The last was that I was beautiful. And these traits can be looked upon as a blessing or a curse. For me, being a black girl was not only intimidating but also great.
I have so many women to look up to — famous or not. Yes, we have our problems but in my eyes our problems and the things we go through as women help to further define us. We have things that we have to overcome, but it’s only a way for us to get stronger.