Happy second week of August! I know with every day that passes, you’re unconsciously preparing for the upcoming school year. Some of you are ready and can’t wait. Others are dreading it. Regardless of where you are, I want you to start thinking about the young people who will be sitting in your classrooms in the Fall. More specifically, I want you to think about the Black Girls and Women that you will be interacting with.
Black Women are the most educated group in American and the fastest growing entrepreneurs. And at the same time, the CDC recently revealed that Black Women experience the highest rate of homicide, Black Trans women are killed at higher rates than all other trans women and Black Girls are pushed out of schools at higher rates than all other girls and are the fastest growing jail population.
Black girlhood and womanhood is complex. We rock and we’re drowning in trauma.
This weekend, I took my mom and God Mother to see Girls Trip and I had a lot of thoughts on the film, the good, the bad and the ugly. You know when you activate your critical consciousness you can’t really enjoy anything. But today I am going to focus on Dina and all the ways Dina made me uncomfortable.
Yep, I said it.
Dina was relentless. She was every negative Black girl stereotype that exists rolled into one. Her mouth was filthy, she was sexually free, she couldn’t…wouldn’t be controlled or tamed. She was loud. She was blunt. She was a flirt. She was a fighter. She was always turned all the way up.
I kept on wondering how the other 3 were her friends and stayed her friends for twenty years. But that was just it. Dina was a friend: loyal and loving and true. Dina is the epitome of a down ass friend, the type of friend I wish I had on my team. Because I know with her, she’d always have my back even though she was thoroughly embarrassing.
I left the theatre thinking about Dina in elementary school, 16 year old Dina, and 21 year old Dina. The only thing that can top Dina’s story is the real life story of Tiffany Haddish, homeless, disconnected from school, a foster child; and sufficiently sophstiratchet in everything she does. Tiffany Haddish brought Dina to life because she could relate to Dina. She is Dina.
Her portrayal had me wandering about my inner Dina or rather all the ways I’ve been told not to be like Dina, that Dina, was not, is not, Black Girl Magic.
When I left the theatre, I had to dig into why I couldn’t allow Dina to be Dina, Tiffany to be Tiffany and for Black girls to be Black girls in all our diverse glory and representations; why I needed Dina to be less, smaller, tamer, more respectable.
I mean, we love Angela Rye and Auntie Maxine for their brash in your face, unapologetic Blackness and ratchetness but we do not love it in Sharkeysha or Chynna or Dina. We want our Black ratchetness to be acceptable and fit into a nice neat box.
While everyone else commodifies our identities and become rich.
Way before I saw Girls Trip, I was perusing Fb one night and I found a post that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was by a sistah named Fiyah Angelou. She offered a definition for feminism that I could rock with (because yall know I ain’t no feminist.) She called her brand of feminism, Ratchet feminism.
I immediately reached out to her and asked if I could publish her post on CREAD.
Luckily, she agreed.
Men respect me on accident. They show me respect in the form of benevolent misogyny. These men place me on Queen Status until I disagree with them, until I assert myself in any way that triggers his flimsy ego, I am momentarily granted a veneer of respect.
This is one reason that I cut to the chase. I don’t want to be defined by his narrow vision and purpose for me.
Sir, I am what you would call a hoe (heaux). I have three kids by three different men. I have never married any of them. I am unapologetic about my sexual herstory and my sexual future. Completion of my college education isn’t really my dream. I accepted recently that I was grasping at respectability. I forgive myself for not always knowing what I needed to know in order to liberate myself sooner. I forgive myself. And I am dedicated to the healing and restoration of Black Folks of marginalized gender and other silenced intersections. I am a ratchet feminist, a proheauxist, if you will.
My feminism is inclusive and centers the unprotected of the unprotected.
Loud black girls. Baby mamas, hoes, the breeders. The ones that don’t give a fuck what I’m saying right now because they don’t even know they need protection. Those we call dumb. Those we constantly disrespect. The CNA’s that take care of our families, our older people and our dying. They do this work, this honorable work and we do not honor or protect them. I’m here for them. The dope under the titty bitches doing time under legal supervision or incarcerated. Especially those incarcerated for protecting themselves from the violence of Black Men. I am here for the witches, conjurers and readers. The thin. The asexual. The quiet. The Muslim. The teachers and paraprofessionals that work with our children, The heaux that are discarded and abused and have the credit for their fashion and aesthetic contributions hijacked by Becky and nem bitches, the “too dark” for that lipstick bitches. I’m here for tranxwomen, sex workers and the “fast tail girls” too.
For those living in poverty, those struggling with addiction, those in the middle of the water disasters, those making meals in the middle of food deserts. I’m here for women with mental illness that will never be diagnosed or are dealing with stigma and barriers to treatment. Here for the strippers, the students and the shy. Tall girls, fat girls that innovate heaux culture. The ratchets, the hoes, those living with disabilities. Those we do not see, we will not see. The transkids. The nonbinary kids. The queers, the femmes, and the studs. The ones I did name here but will learn because of my commitment to invest in our protection at all costs.
Because ANY attack on Black Lives is an attack on ALL Black Lives.
Honey, she gave me life with this post. She made me stop and think about what I say and what I do. She had me questioning, do I love Black people unconditionally or only a certain type of Black people, the respectable kind, the kind that will let me help them, teach them, refine them, oooooh save them.
Lord. She preached a word to my soul that day. I asked her, if she could give a word of advice to Black educators what would she say;
Note to Educators:
We can add more redemptive value to our work by learning how to be intersectional. It is our responsibility to have deep honest visits with ourselves in order to see how we, regardless of our intentions, are agents of oppression. I realize that we need care and support while unlearning our oppressive narratives – we are all we got.
And when we protect one another we have enough. All Black Lives Matter.
I know as a Professional Black Girl myself, a teacher and movie goer, I have a line that separates Black girls who are acceptable and Black girls who still need to be refined. Throughout my career, I found myself needing to fix those Black girls who were embarrassing to me and if they refused my help I ostracized them.
Yes, I’m telling the truth on myself.
As a teacher, I found myself constantly having beef with those girls in my classroom.
Everything about them disgusted me, the way they spoke, the way they dressed, the ways they handled conflict, the way they dealt with their romantic partners and because I had a problem with their very being, I could never do the one thing I desperately wanted to do; become close to them. Support them. Love them. But most of all, I couldn’t teach them.
Because people don’t learn from people they don’t like.
That’s actual factual.
I now know on the flip side, you can’t teach those who you don’t respect and accept.
The magic of Black girls isn’t tied to respectability. It’s tied to our ability to survive and thrive despite all the ways we are stifled and despised.
I mean, this has been the summer of Cardi B. and I fux with Cardi!
I’m sure I’m not alone.
And I can bet you will see the impact of the summer of Cardi’s in your classroom come this Fall. You better get prepared. Because like Dina, Cardi is the type of down ass friend most of all wish we had in our corners. She’s problematic and revolutionary at the same damn time.
And I know some of you may be saying I am a walking contradiction. Possibly. Another possibility is that I am working on getting myself together through deconstructing my own respectability politics.
You know, two things can be opposite and true at the same damn time.