For The Imperfect Black Girls.

Recently I’ve been on this kick. This downward spiral, self-loathing, pick myself up again with Maya Angelou quotes and basil on my windowsill kick. This lack of water, skin breakout, healing myself and killing my wallet with skincare products kick. This telling everyone I know “yo this has been the hardest year of my life” kick. This PTSD and depression diagnosis kick.

Recently, I have been spilling myself to anyone that will hear me. If you know me, you know that me spilling myself hardly looks like spilling. It is a steady trickling, wrapped up in exclamations about Beyonce’s impact or stories about my students. It is talking about orishas and herbs and healing and writing because discussing the journey and destination is always so much prettier than the mess I am currently in. To me, this pretty trickling feels like progress. Last year it was me sitting in my room, mute and unopened, sociable and bubbly because because it was expected of me, but longing to spend every other moment in my bed.

Today doesn’t look very much different, though this increased heat and sunshine in Chicago has me wanting to shed my winter skin and bask in the outside to make up for the last ten months. My bed still feels like my safe haven, but there is a little less fear in leaving it.

I have spent the whole year fighting the myth of the strong Black woman, writing post after post about it, having conversations with loved ones about the harm it has caused me. My Twitter feed is now filled with Black women sharing stories about their individual and collective traumas, finding healing in community. Despite the beautiful awakening I’ve experienced due the vulnerability of Black women, I find myself annoyed, incredibly annoyed, in fact. I am annoyed with myself for relying on vulnerability to validate the humanity of Black women, and annoyed there is a culture that has taught me this, one that I have not yet unlearned and dismantled.

I came across a post on The Skinny Black Girl where the author discusses her annoyance with lifestyle blogs and vows to start writing posts like “Real Guhls Have Toothpaste On Their Mirrors” and “Some Days Will Just Suck (aka You’re Not a Bad Person for Letting a Shit Day, Week, Month, or Year Get the Best of You)”. Instantly, it clicked for me. I have spent so much time writing these pretty narratives of my struggles and looking for the same in others. Constantly called a role model and an inspiration, I fight hard against the notion of being seen as anything other than put-together because I am hardly allowed the space to do so before I am reminded that I have so many things going well for me. My story does not have to be pretty. I can openly take snapchats of me eating Pringles shirtless in bed or crying watching Real Housewives Of Atlanta because Kim Fields’ life is a beautifully disguised mess, much like my own. I can flourish and falter simultaneously.

So much of Black women’s “humanity” is tied to what we can offer. If it isn’t physical profit, it is stealing our intellectual labor. If it isn’t using us as pedestals for white women, it is placing us on untouchable pedestals, further harming us.

I cannot afford to care about my status as an “inspirational” Black woman anymore. I refuse to spend another day choking back tears, mammying for friends and family, closing my mouth for comfort. I inspire myself in my most difficult days. There is a tiny universe of Warsan Shire lines being hosted in my body, waiting to emerge for no one other than myself. I am powerful, an ugly crier, a wounded warrior.

Black women are allowed to be imperfect somebodies and do not need your sympathy or approval to do so.

3 Comments

  • kaitlynmcnab May 31, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    Beautifully written and honest. I’ve had this realization too and moving forward, I’ve been so much more content with flourishing and faltering. Love your content! ❤️

    Reply
  • Skinny Black Girl August 28, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    This was beautiful. And thank you for linking back to my post.

    Reply

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