Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Politics of a Selfie

Google Searches Beautiful woman

Google Searches Pretty Girl 

Google searches Little Girl 

Google searches woman 

Four google searches and not a single image that looks like me, my mom, my sister, my best friend, my grandmother, my aunt… you get the picture. These images represent the standard of beauty in America and around the world. To me and to many women of African descent, selfies are radical.

Selfie: a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or camera phone held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick.

A selfie enables you to look at your reflection and snap a photo. A reflection that is not represented in the media or world around you. The ability for a Black woman to capture herself and cherish that moment is powerful. Many historians, sociologists, and psychologists love to discuss how the millennial generation is full of narcissists. This framework assumes that all millennial experience the world the same way. Millennial generation really means White kids. Black women do not get the luxury of living in a carefree world where everything around them reinforces their existence.

Selfies overcompensate for what is lacking in the world, positive representations of Black women. Selfies are another way to say I love myself and I choose to put myself first.

I have 2,113 pictures on my instagram and the majority of them are selfies. Selfies remind me that I exist. They remind me that I can exist within my own context. They remind me that I am beautiful. They remind me that I am fabolous. They remind me that if no one else loves me I love me. They remind me how stylish I am. They remind me how unique my hair is. They remind me how versatile my hair is. They remind me how great I look from a perfect angle. They remind me of the good times. They remind me of the struggle times. They remind me of the many ways I can express myself. They remind me of what colors look best on my skin color. They remind me how much I love big bold colors. They remind me of me. And that is important for Black women. 

While we are never free from societal pressures, I can post a picture that I feel that I look best in. I can edit a picture in a way that I feel compliments myself the best. I do what I do to me on my own terms and in my own way. I am 150% about myself. I have talked about self-love multiple times and the idea of being cocky in a world that renders you invisible.

Selfies are revolutionary. Black women are flooding youtube, tumblr, blogging platforms, twitter, facebook, and instagram because they finally have the channel and medium to express themselves in a way they will best represents Black women. The most popular fashion and beauty bloggers are Black women. Why? Because outside of the online medium, Black women cannot find products, images, or advice on things that are conducive to their hair texture or skin color or body type.

Black women are the fastest growing entrepreneurs because we have decided (as we have always done) that it is important to put ourselves first and create content that mirrors our wants and desires.

In a world that renders Black women invisible, it is hard for many to conceptualize how revolutionary and radical a selfie is.

As you see on social media, there are many memes and posts about how women (particularly Black women) do things for likes. They describe us as materialistic, shallow, gold digging, attention seekers who live a life revolved around men. The reason why? People don’t see Black women as autonomous human beings who are able to make decisions for themselves, including the decision to love themselves in a world that hates them.

People are uncomfortable with this notion so they bash and ridicule us. They cant imagine Black women loving themselves unapologetically. They cant imagine Black women owning themselves and their image. They cant imagine Black women doing anything without someone else's permission. People want to control what we do. Slurs, memes, and fake deep art such as this below only serve to put Black women black into their place. 

But this only forces us to build more sisterhood and community. Every time someone strikes a Black woman, a Black woman creates another channel to express self-love and to create products or ideas that cater to only Black women. I hate that our inspiration has to come from the hate in the world. But the most oppressed people are often the most innovative and creative people. They are the doers, the movers, the shakers because they have to survive.

Black women have to must survive.
As Assata said we have a duty to win and fight and love one another. A very important concept of Black feminist theory is the ability for Black women to 1) recognize the negative images and caricatures of them throughout history and currently in the media 2) recognize how those images are contrary to who and what we really are and 3) counter those images with a diversity of images. Black feminist theory allows us to assert that Black women can be all things at once. Our identity is fluid and adaptable because we are human beings. We exist and we have to survive.

Don’t ever feel discouraged from taking a selfie. Representation matters. We matter.

3 x3 x 4 x= 36  Beautiful Photos of ME ME ME + More

Because of Selfies I get to see people who look like me (literally me) and people who look like ME (in the figurative sense) 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Cliche Cliche

It was just yesterday I was heading into my junior year of college. I had it all planned out. I had it all planned out. My 5 year plan and here I am 5 years later still searching for it. Why is it that society tells us we have to know or to plan? I used to be one of those who thought, everything must be written down on paper. All your plans and goals must be spoken into existence. You are what you do.  Your career defines you. Your goals and aspirations define you. You have the capacity to do whatever you put your mind to.

But lately. Well maybe since I entered law school, I have been having 2nd, 3rd, 4th, guesses about what it means to live. What is it about society that forces us to know what we want to do at age 5?

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Hmm. I want to be a an orthopedic surgeon, actress, and model. A 6 year old Black girl said at a recent Blackgirlscode event. How can a 6 year old who barely knows addition know what she wants to be when she grow up? Why do we push people into boxes when they are young? We claim to be a country founded on individual thought, creativity, and imagination; ( along with our many hypocrisies) yet there is absolutely no room for people to grow, adapt, or change.

I had a 5 year plan. It listed all the classes I needed to take to graduate. It had a list of all law schools I wanted to go to. It had the type of career I wanted to pursue and the income associated with each position. It ranked the different cities I would want to be in. I had it all planned out.

At 24 years old, I am about to receive my JD/MBA and I struggle with saying that I don't know specifically what I want to do. Or maybe society hasn't given me the space to be comfortable with what I want to do. Because I do know what I want to do. I want to do everything. I want to be everything. I want to be everywhere. I hate structure. I hate rules. I hate boxes. I have always known this about myself and yet I am still afraid to say it.

I love Black women. I want to use my legal and business degrees to create a more equitable and just society for women of the African diaspora. I want to empower other Black women and be empowered by other Black women. I want to learn something new everyday. I want to do something different everyday. I am not cut out for cubicles and billable hours. That is just not me. And yet I am still afraid to say that.

Everyone wants me to be what they think I should be. Nobody actually takes the time to look at me, listen to me, and give me actual tangible advice.

You are a sharp, intelligent women. We need people like you in the corporate world. I can see you as partner of a big law firm. You are very outspoken and care about racial justice issue. We need people like you in the district attorney's office. We need people like you within the system to effect change.

What does it mean to be a person like me? I struggle with that everyday and yet people who don't know me project what they feel is best for me.

If you knew me, you would know that none of those thing entice me. You would know that those are not environments I thrive in. You would know that I am with the people, for the people and as my journey continues my ideas about the world and my idea of change will continue to be radicalized. I have no interest in conforming. I have no interest in being the only one and being subjected to micro-aggressions daily by people who I am smarter than yet have little or no expectations of me. I have no interest in being around people who are enamored by my brilliance as though a person like me Black girl like me couldn't possibly be this smart and this good at what she does.

Everyday I am surrounded by mediocre White people who can do whatever they want and feel whatever they want. I resent that. I hate that I have to be 100 times better than someone to get a position that I don't even want just to say I have made it.

To many people that is success. To me that is an everyday nightmare. I went to law school and business school because I thought that having these degrees and education would open me up to endless possibilities. I thought that I would be able to adapt yet thrive in any environment I put myself in. But ever since I got here, I've been put in a box.

My favorite phrase is : It is okay not to be okay. I want young Black girls to know that. I want my peers to know that. Because some days I am not okay. Some days I don't have it figured out. Some days I do. Some days I have the energy to be outspoken. Some days I don't. Some days I feel like going to law school was the right decision. Some days I don't. Some days I feel like I have the capacity to effect real world change. Some days I don't.

This would be normal dilemma if Black women were actually considered full human beings. But we are not.

I am expected to be everything and nothing all at once. 

In a world where everyone and everything is trying to confine you to a box or a stereotype (professional, academic, hoe, good girl, bad girl, sexual, virgin, stripper, gold digger, angry/single/crazy/lonely/bitter bitch who cant get a man because shes a feminist and doesnt know her place), it is extremely difficult to find comfort in what is a basic human state: intentional uncertainty.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Not Your Burden

She is surviving
You must not carry her burden
You must not carry her pain
You are not your mother's pain
She is not your burden
Someone must break the cycle of chains
Generations of abuse
Enduring his verbal slashes
At your pelvis
And you wonder why you are like the way
You are is a mixture of everyone else's burdens
Young girl
Be free
Someone must break the cycle
You must begin to love yourself more than other
She should too
Survival is contingent on our ability to care for ourselves
Young girl , take care of yourself
Because no one else will
And while they may be caught in the cycle
Generations of abuse
Enduring the slap across your behind
6 years old
Married with children
Perverted without conscience
It is not your burden
Young girl