This weekend, for my twentieth reunion from Spelman, I got a super-cute t-shirt from Procter and Gamble’s My Black is Beautiful campaign in my swag bag. From the moment my twelve year-old saw the t-shirt she was in love with it. It is a simple black tee with white writing…”My Black is Beautiful.” Simple and harmless enough, right? No.
On the Monday after the reunion, my daughter asked me to wear the shirt to school. I threw a tantrum. It is mine. I hadn’t even worn it yet. It still had that new t-shirt smell and she had the nerve…the guts…to ask me if she could wear it? Every time I get something new, no matter what it is, my daughters swarm in and raid it. Every…dang…time. Ultimately, I relented and allowed her to wear it because I’m a generous soul like that and I like to reserve my petty moments so that I can get maximum entertainment value out of them.
When the kid got home from school and I asked the customary, “How was your day?’ question, I got an ear full. “Oh my gawsh Mommy! The kids at school said my shirt was racist and that the teachers were going to make me take it off!” Let me be honest, my first inclination was to completely lose it but I didn’t. I mean, no one from the school called me and no teacher ever did tell her to take it off. But, for her, none of that mattered because her peers had already made her feel self-conscious about the words on her shirt.
IS IT RACIST? Were her non-black peers identifying her shirt with “Black Lives Matter“, a movement whose purpose and theme have been hijacked (in my opinion) in the media and translated into an “anti-everybody who ain’t black” campaign ( which it is not)? The sad thing is that our children, all races of them, are seeing the foolishness that is being carried on by the adults and the racial tension that we, as parents, believe we are eliminating from our children’s world continues to be perpetuated by our actions. Wake up, ok?
Let me go ahead and make this obligatory statement: “I have White friends…lots of them.” Believe it or not, my White friends know I’m Black and we have interesting dialogue about culture differences…that’s what intelligent people do. I don’t respect the “I don’t see color” statement. If you’re going to be my friend, you HAVE to admit that you see color. Otherwise I won’t think you are authentic.
In America, the melting pot, there are tons of different cultures. Most people who are not Black American can tell you their origin. Irish. Jewish. Italian. Mexican. Spanish. Russian. Scottish. English. Indian. Brazilian. Cuban…on and on. Each one of these cultures will scream to the top of their lungs how proud they are of their rich cultures. Rightfully so.
There are some Blacks in America who do know their origins. In fact, some of them are so proud of their cultures that they don’t even identify as American. West Indians. Egyptian. Eritrean. Nigerian. South African. Kenyan.
There’s some of us who are just plain ole’ black folk…”
There’s some of us who are just plain ole’ black folk. We don’t have a clue where our families originated. What flag can we wave and be proud? All we have is “black.” Just “black.” If people who know where their families came from can be proud, why can’t us plain old chocolate (I can’t say ‘vanilla’ because…well) black people be proud without people being offended and worried that we are sending out secret signals for reparations and planning a revolt?
So, ultimately, I had to make sure that my baby understands that believing her “Black is Beautiful” does not mean that she’s making a statement that other ethnicities are ugly. It is fine to be proud of your blackness…”black” is all we’ve got, okay?
Unfortunate but necessary conversation.
Now go wash the shirt so you can wear it again with the biggest afro you can pick out.
Go baby! Be the Pied Piper of Unapologetic Self-Love.
I’m Joslyn Jackson. I have so many kids that I have to stop and take a headcount sometimes. This is my blog. That guy is my husband and he runs the circus. I am also a lawyer who loves to write about the absolute insanity that is my life. I started this blog to embarrass my children. That is my number one goal. If you are entertained in the meantime…great.
Today, my goal is to help my understand that expressions of self-love are not always accepted but they should wholeheartedly felt and expressed anyway.
If I have typos….remember I said I’m not perfect.
That’s it! Love, Peace and Souuuuuuuuuuullllllll!