Sunday, February 25, 2018
An Open Letter to All Around The Way Girls
My examples of womanhood came from the throwaway pile. The women that took no shit, and smacked their gum like the smacks were words necessary for their sentence structure. Those girls from the hood with a loud boisterous vernacular, it’s musical and fast, and if you don’t know the vocabulary they’ll leave you in the dust, lost, with no idea you’ve been cut into pieces until your bloody limbs fell to the ground. Those were my champions.
For most of my life, the world told me to despise those girls. Their existence something shameful, there being should disappear and this should be great for our Black queens. Queendom is the goal, the pinnacle of Black women hierarchy, which we all should be aiming to reach. My childhood was filled with messages such as; I was different, and of course, I was better than these women around me. Although I lived in the same projects, wore the same clothes, use the same food stamps, spoke with the same cadence, ate the same pickle out of the plastic cellophane bag from the corner store, I somehow was a rose amongst concrete the elite love raving about, I was special.
Girlhood was spent reading lots of books, learning to do hair, and playing on tire swings. My parents were dope about providing safety and comfort. Kept my siblings and me out the streets and occupied before my adolescence. Attending every kind of dance class you can image- track and field, and I love gymnastics and participated in that from the age of nine until about 13. Girlhood was great and I loved all the experiences presented to me through art and sports, but I never fit with the girls I met in those spaces my parents fought to put me in. There were missing puzzle pieces, or maybe the wrong pieces forced together with no consideration to the cohesive image of a puzzle. There was no comfort or safety by those surroundings. I’d go home, to the ghetto and I’d feel safe again, but I'd tell no one how comfortable I felt. The hood, safe? That’s foolish. I would walk past the girls on the block, they looked so free to me, and then I’d remember the respectability push down my throat that says I shouldn’t look at them lovingly. I’m supposed to rise above, so I’d’ roll my eyes at them, put my nose in the air and walk past them, like a queen. . . .Right?
By adolescence, I shred these thoughts, because I came from a legacy of hood chicks. These ratchet Black women that were resourceful, quick and knew the streets. For a long time, the world told me to not love those things about myself. Speak softer, wear fewer colors, your earrings should be smaller, and many other things I loved about women that fit that description. I was told not to exist, and I thank the Goddess in me for never listening to that white supremacist elitist vile. They will tell you everything about you is ugly and worthless so you can give it away for free. Then they’ll steal your fly and act like they invented it. This is the stories of poor Black girls all around the world.
Being her has saved my life, the intersection of being unapologetically Black and a woman was taught to me in those spaces, my oppression wasn’t going to result in me muting my carefree. It is those women, the BAPs, the chicken heads, hood rats (and the other vermin euphemism people use for us) that showed me strength in adversity, helped me stay equipped as I battled brutality from White people and Black men. Through them, I’m still able to laugh and smile, while the odds are piled against me. It is with them I feel the sisterhood, a coven of safety. How something as colorful as a Black woman from the hood could ever be compared to a weed is beyond my mental reach, but still, we grow. My allegiance to the women who actively taught me what womanism feels like will always be, they are my sisters, and no weapons formed against could ever win because our superpower is evolution.