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Christian and Socially-Conscious…One Woman's Expression

Archive for the tag “girl messages”

Excuse Me Little “Black” Girl—Part 5

A LOLLIPOP GIRL!!!???!!!!  My eyes quickly shift to her mother who is obviously mortified.  The giggles from the audience ring out.  An Around The Way Girl?  Returning my attention to the five-year-old, I wonder if she understood the question.  There she stands so innocently smiling, ignorant to her naiveté.  The teacher is noticeably uncomfortable.  She simply asks the next student the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Excuse me little “Black” girl, we need to talk.

Soar

What’s going on?  No really, what is happening?  What messages are you receiving–about yourself, about women, about life?  What television shows are you watching?  What music do you hear?  What conversations do you overhear?  What messages fill your head?

Sad Girl

When you play, what do you pretend to be?  When I was your age, I played with dolls and teddy bears.  They were my students.  I was the teacher.

What!  You don’t play with dolls?  Teddy bears neither?  Really?

Well, when did that get old?

Let me tell you a story.  Last week my assistant told me that every day, several times throughout the day, she sees a woman walking by the window.  One day, this woman approached my assistant’s friend and asked to be his lollipop girl.  He said, “No.”  Then, another man walked by and she asked him the same question.  Again and again, she did this–all day, each day.  Sometimes she would walk up to men sitting in cars.  Sometimes she would get inside the cars, but not long afterwards she would be seen walking down the street.  Every man does not say, “No”.  The woman, however, always looks really tired.  Still, she continues to walk up and down the street like she is on a mission—all day, back and forth, forth and back.  She walks.  She walks to find a yes, only to walk some more.  Does that sound like something you want to do when you grow up?

Listen to me.

1 girl looking

Ask your parents to take you to the library.  Ask them to check out books for you.  Fall in love with books.  Look at the pictures.  Listen to the stories.  Study the letters.  Read the words.  Understand their arrangement.  Books are treasures to be valued.

little girl reading

Allow your mind to crave knowledge.  Imagine unwritten success stories about your life.  Can’t you see you winning?  I can!

girl with book looking

There will be times when your feet will hurt.  They will feel like you have walked for days.  People will see you and know you are on a mission.  Along the way, you will hear more noes than you will care to count.  Do not become discouraged.  The yeses you receive will be well-worth it.

Listen.  They say lollipop girls are the world’s oldest professionals.  Although that is not true, you will show the world that you are no suckerLittle girl, go get ’em!  I’m rooting for you!

 

Excuse Me Little “Black” Girl—Part 4

Ponytails.  Afro Puffs.  Hair Clips.  Barrettes.  Beads…with foil tips. 

Yes, you know! 

Braids. Jheri Curls. Candy Curls.  Hair Rollers.  Hot Dryers. Hot Combs. Ouch!  Protect your ears!  Wash and Press.  Perms.  Just Wash?  Nah! Excuse me little “Black” girl, let’s talk hair.

little girl smiling

Since I was your age I knew I had good, thick hair.  Hair dressers would routinely tell me that my hair was a lot of work, but it was what other people wish they had.  Thank God for hair dressers who have loved on my tresses!  My reward for sitting hours in those styling chairs and sweating under those roasting dryers were tons of compliments from the awaiting public.  

“Mom,” I recently asked, “why did I start getting hair relaxers?”

perm on girl

“Convenience,” she simply said, and with that I remembered the words of my many stylists.  Your hair is a lot of work, but it is what other people wish they had.  Convenience made sense.

Sad Girl

An interesting thing happened to me in exchange for this convenience.  It took a while, but I can now realize its onset shortly after my first perm.  You see, while waiting for my mom to blow dry my hair I would let my towel hang down and pretend that my hair was longer and stringy.  I wanted it to shake when I moved my head like I saw girls hair move on television.  I wanted to wrap it into a ball and tie it back.  I wanted one side of it to tuck behind an ear and hang down my back.  How convenient it must be to just wash your hair and it be naturally straight?  I did not have that luxury, so I pretended.  Have you ever done that? 

press girl

At the time, I did not realize that I was buying into the idea that the desired look was long and straight and movable.  I did not understand that obtaining this look came with a cost, a cost I could not afford.  So in my naiveté, I would prolong my mom blow drying my hair by leaving the towel on my head and walking around the house imaging that it was my hair.  Oh, the innocence of a child’s imagination.  Convenience.

Shhhh

It is only now that I realize the importance of the honesty and the positive messages I received from my stylists which preceded the hair compliments I frequently received from the public.  I never stopped loving my hair no matter what state I choose to wear it and a lot of that unwavering love is because of the hair stylists I have had over my lifetime.  In their own ways, they have always and without question instructed me to love my hair.  Unfortunately, however, I had begun to devalue it.  Make sure, no matter how you wear your hair that you never shortchange its value.

me upside down

As you can see, I have returned to wearing my hair without the addition of relaxing chemicals.  Go ahead! You can smile!  It has been an absolute joy rediscovering the texture and behavior of my hair.  And to think, I last saw it when I was your age.  Oh boy have I missed it, and the messages that it reinforces within me.

What messages, you ask.

Oh, we will talk more about them later.  I need to go and wash my hair.

Just wash?

Yes!  Just wash.  I am about to do a wash and go…and in case you are wondering…I still receive numerous compliments, from all shades of people although now I don’t actually need them.  My hair is a constant reminder to love and value my whole unique self, even in the face of convenience which may convey otherwise.  

me hand up

Love yourself little girl!  In short, that is what my hair messages me.

Excuse Me Little “Black” Girl—Part 1

Excuse Me Little “Black” Girl,

Sad Girl

Yes you.  I am talking to YOU!  I know, I know….  You want to know, “Why?”  Believe me when I say, “I understand your skepticism”.  I have confidently interrupted you for no reason other than that you are female and black.

Is that a crime?

No…well, some may think so on two counts but in this case NO!  To the contrary, I have stopped you to encourage you to continuously set goals and envision achieving the impossible in this crazy world.  Its manifestations are indeed possible!

girl dreaming on laptop

I get it!  I GET IT!  Achieving goals is hard.  No one said it would be easy!

The ability to overcome stereotypes about who you are—or who you are expected to be— combined with societal hindrances, both inter-and-intra-culturally, does not come with a manual.  BREATHE!  Life is not that easy.

These breaking-barrier conversations, in number and in depth, to obtain guidance are not readily-accessible.  We are not mythical, however.  Living examples of us are in fact around, but you (and we) are being conditioned to overlook our essence and devalue our worth.

“Your turn will come,” they will say, “after his and hers.”  Time does not stop.  Remember, “Nothing beats a failure but a try.”  Your turn is now, just as his and hers.  Truth is, our worth is your worth.  Collective value carries weight.  It is either relieving or burdensome.  Be conscious and careful about what you cart.  No one said it would be easy.  You must push on and push through.  Your dreams will resuscitate you.  You will learn to trust that your help, meaning help that is specific to you, will come.  Time will teach you to expect and to accept it in whatever form and time it appears.  Experience will sharpen your ability to identify it.  In turn, you will become aware that you are being shaped to be the help for others of which you seek.  It is a process.  Excuse me little “Black” girl, you are being transformed.

Me 12.30.15 talking to group

Allow yourself to learn your SELF.  Be patient.  This is a never-ending process.  It must be embraced with (at times stubborn) determination.  Media messages will tell you, and those around you, who you are.  Songs and television shows will do the same.  Religious interpretations and authority figures will have a say, as will community leaders—if you are mentioned at all.  Find appreciation in the knowledge of other’s misperception of you, then confidently introduce yourself.

peace

It was nice meeting you.  Now you know WHY.

 

Mother’s Day Reflections

Mother’s Day is approaching, so naturally I find myself pondering the lives of my mother, my grandmothers, and so forth.  Interestingly, as I age, I find myself often thinking about the times in which the women of which I come from lived (and live).  As I continue to grow as a woman, my appreciation for their lives noticeably deepens.  No longer do my thoughts start and stop with gift purchases and activities when I prepare for Mother’s Day.  More so now than ever,  I have an awareness that the celebration of Mother’s Day is a celebration everyday.  I have my mom to thank for this.  I see how she shows her love for her mother daily.  Interestingly, because of her example I take note when I see other women and men do this for their mothers.  Their sweet gestures oftentimes are just between mother and child—unless the mother publicizes it, a child’s sincerity rarely does.

Mom and Daughter

As I observe the placement of women (our expected roles, the abuses many suffer, the stories others tell about us, the messages we tell ourselves), not only in this country but around the world, I search for indicators of better days for the girls of tomorrow.  I listen to the stories my mother tells, the stories my grandmothers tell.  I listen and I wish I heard them earlier.  Their successes make me smile.  Their struggles bring me sadness.  These women are wise and knowledgeable.  They are strong, stronger than I ever thought.  The lessons they share aid me in life, even our disagreements are not easily dismissed.  A younger me would insist to be heard.  Now, I am finding increasingly more value by listening.  Through their voices, I find abounding treasure.  In them, I find sources for obtaining honest, vast, intergenerational viewpoints from women.  Unfortunately, these expressions are regularly devalued in mainstream society.

As I think about my love for my mother,  I cannot help but to acknowledge my mother’s love for me.  I have seen her sacrifice for me.  Still, I know there are numerous sacrifices that she has made for me of which I will never know.  Without hesitation, she tells me to be me.  She supports my growth.  She believes in me.  She loves me.  I love her.

Mother’s Day…..a day when many will exchange gifts and restaurants will be full….a day when graves will be visited and memories will flood minds….Mother’s Day….appreciating her….everyday.

Business Woman Model

Recently I saw something that was really awesome.  It happened within a split second.  If I had blinked, there is no doubt I would have missed it.  Glad I did not miss it.  I would have missed her.

Recently, I saw a “business woman model”.  This model is unique.  Her findings are rare.  After all, how often is she portrayed in film?  When do we hear about her in music?  Who is reading about her in books?  Although present, she is oftentimes invisible.  In a traditional sense, I guess her omission would make sense.  Society’s message has been that men make the bacon (i.e. money) and women fry it up in a pan.  With that being the standard, who would expect a woman to have and operate her business to make a significant profit?  She would seem out of place out of the kitchen, right?

Blog Woman Business

Over the course of my lifetime, I have seen numerous women in leadership positions.  I have seen them lead families, lead projects, lead departments, etc..  I have also known women who own their own businesses, but recently I saw something I had failed to identify before.  Was it there and I had somehow missed it?  I can only wonder.  What I saw was an outgoing, professional woman with a very kind heart and a generous spirit.  I saw a woman who understands the obstacles of running a business in general and as a woman specifically, and who is not afraid to speak on them.  I saw a woman who, within her own confidence, recognized and appreciated the potential she saw in another woman and without hesitation offered to be an asset.  Housed within the words she spoke lived work-life balance.  This woman encompassed all of that, but within a split second—the second I could have missed had I blinked— I saw her business wisdom illustrated by her knowledge of the importance and purpose of money.  OK. OK.  It was slightly more than one second, but her subtle delivery could have been easily missed.

The timely presentation of this model was great to see.  I am looking forward to learning from it.  I am looking forward to sharing.  It can only make us better.

The Silence of Being Victimized

There I was walking in downtown Jacksonville when it happened.  It was in the mid-morning hours.  The weather was mild; skies were clear.  I was wearing a business suit, carrying court files as I was returning to my office from the courthouse.  Mentally, I was thinking about the tasks that awaited me that day.  There would be many.  My thoughts, however, were interrupted by sounds coming from across the street.  I turned my head to look.  It was happening.  The construction workers across the street were catcalling me.  How embarrassing! Mentor Needed At that time, I was only one year out of school.  I was still learning the landscape of my profession and new environment.  The family I had in the city, I did not really know.  At times it was lonely, but I was making new friends while trying to balance the stresses of adulthood.  The last thing I needed was to be sexually harassed, publicly humiliated, and degraded for being a professionally-styled woman.  My feeling of embarrassment quickly turned into being livid.  What was their point, really?  Was such attention really supposed to entice me to scurry across the street, distribute my telephone number, and wait anxiously by the telephone…or was I supposed to ask for their numbers and call them?  What happened to being my knight in shining armor?  Oh, the stories little girls are told.

While looking forward, I acted like I did not hear them.  They continued.  There were a couple of gentlemen walking on the same sidewalk as me.  They did not challenge the construction workers though, nor did they say anything to me.  I would soon be in my office building.  I would soon be safe.

You know, I never shared this experience with anyone prior to this blog entry.  When I entered the building that day, I went about working as normal.  Although I wondered if such thing had happened to any of the other women I was working with, I never asked.  I bet it had and we were just not talking about it.  The silence of being victimized does not negate the experience.  The memory is already impressed.

A Girl’s Voice?

Do you think we (as a society) coax girls to find their voices? Last night, I was watching a documentary on Richard Pryor. It told the story of when Pryor found his voice. Supposedly, he was in the middle of a comedy routine when he had this epiphany. It resulted in him walking off the stage. It was thought that his career, by abandoning his set, was done. Years later, he emerged as the comedian most now know—powerful, purposeful, and a change agent.

By the time girls graduate from high school, most have seriously thought about being a mother. When would be a good time? How many children to have, if any at all? How does having children fit into pursuing professional goals? These are questions many of us seriously consider, along with our ticking biological clock.

Some girls have high school sweethearts, making the dream of marriage (forever) more believable. No one is thinking about the divorce rate, which has lingered around 50% for some time now. Nope. Teenage love….well, some marriages last, right?

Since the early days of toting baby dolls and “playing house”, girls have been encouraged to be a parent, a caretaker, a wife, a nurturer, and if necessary a financial provider. Through music, movies, magazines, and media, girls (and women) are encouraged to be sex objects at all times. When, however, is she urged to find her voice if it lies outside of these predetermined boxes? When is she pushed to discover her unique self, her purpose, and her power? ….And for those of us who are…oh how odd we must seem.

Girl Holding Up Award

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