emergingfree

Christian and Socially-Conscious…One Woman's Expression

Archive for the tag “girls”

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 3

A school teacher….Maybe?  I do love learning.

A nurse….Nope!  Needles make me queasy.

An attorney….Can I really be one?

Left alone….  You smiled!  I saw you.  Sorry though.  Excuse me little “Black” girl, but I can’t afford to do that.  You can’t afford for me to do that!  One day you will better understand.

Soar

“You can become whatever you want,” they say.

“Dream big and believe bigger,” they cheer.

“Work hard,” they instruct.

Then what?

Sad Girl

Where are people talking about unfair situations that occur because of your gender and race?  How do you make sense of discriminatory practices that are systemic when so many continue to buy into the social construct designed to define you as property, on both counts?  How do you maintain your innocence about people and possibility when news outlets make a lucrative business by branding the worse of mankind—of all shades and both genders?  Then, of course, there is that day when you realize that the Pledge you excitedly learned to recite in pre-school seems to have loss its meaning to so many who:

  • question the idea of we being one Nation,
  • disagree about being under a —and/or the same— God, and
  • …well, the idea of liberty and justice for all continues to be a hard pill for the masses to swallow.

Although your parents try to shelter you, unfortunately that day is still being introduced to you.  So, what is a girl to do?

Cute little African American girl wearing a ballet costume

Recently, an elderly Black woman heard me talking about some concerns.  I did not know her prior to my presentation, but afterwards she said something so heartfelt.

“Sorry,” she gently whispered, “we dropped the ball.”

WOW!  I was speechless.

“You, however,” she continued, “must keep doing what you are doing and we will help.”  She then shared with me some networking information.

Me 12.30.15 talking to group

So to you, when you ask what is a girl to do?

I respond by relying upon our elder’s instruction, YOU MUST keep doing what you are doing and we will help.

Excuse Me Little “Black” Girl—Part 2

Rock-a-bye baby in the tree top….  Excuse me little “Black” girl, I wonder about you.  YES, YOU!  I wonder how many of you have experienced a period of peace, a time when you had no worries and was carefree.  I wonder if you have two loving parents, parents who often tell and show you that they love you.  Do you tell and show them that you love them?  YES, I mean ACTUALLY SAY  the words:  I-LOVE-YOU-Mom-Dad.  Do you come from a loving home, a place where you are valued and protected, encouraged and supported, challenged and taught?  Is your foundation solid or is it shallow?  I wonder…about you.

Sad Girl

When the wind blows the cradle will rock…. Have you experienced bullying–on the playground or in the classroom?  Have you ever been picked last because you are a girl?  Has a teacher overlooked your raised hand to call on Jim, not that his hand was raised but because he should know science?  Have you ever been teased for being too light or too dark, for not being Black enough?  Have you been told that you think you are white, talk like you are white, act like you are white?  Have you struggled to understand what this means, and what this really means for you?  Do you embrace your uniqueness or do you try to fit in?  When the wind blows, what do you do?

Unique

When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall….  I wonder if you are aware of the injustices that await you in this world–injustices related to your gender, to your race, to your gender and to your race.  I wonder about your preparation for being a healthy, well-balanced being operating in a world that defines so much around gender, race, and economics.  I wonder about your preparation as I think about my own.

Mom and Daughter

 

You see, there is a need to introduce race and gender scenarios to you in safe environments so you can ask questions and get answers, so you will learn to analyze matters for yourself without depending on media messages and mainstream citations to parrot.  As you go forth to be boldly brilliant, you will see some heart aching events.  Some, you will experience firsthand.  Allow yourself to grow in maturity, to experience a range of emotion.  Grow in patience and in perseverance.  Being you, being Black and female, is not a bad thing.  It is a blessed thing.  You will gain insight and strength unlike no other.  You will see that storylines have been created for you, but that you are created to create headlines.  Write your own script once you have captured their attention.  Be open to diverse friendships.  Live outside of confined narratives.  When the bough breaks, change the ending.  Surprise some people and soar!

Soar

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.

 

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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