We’ve all heard of the hashtag #carefreeblackgirl. It’s more than a hashtag, though. It’s a movement.
The movement itself came at just the right time.
Black people were losing hope, due to the violence we faced from White people. Black women were experiencing erasure, fetishization, shame, and sexualization of our bodies.
Finally, it allowed Black girls to break out of a long history of damaging stereotypes.
Simply put, the “Carefree Black Girl” is free to embrace everything that makes her who she is. She doesn’t dim her light for anyone, and removes herself from the burden of society’s limitations. You can search through the hashtag and see a lineup of Black girls basking in the sunlight, rocking bantu knots, serving looks, and ruling the world.
I recently read an interview with beloved actress, singer, and animation voice actress, Cree Summer. If you didn’t know, Summer is loved by fans for her role as Freddie in the beloved show, “A Different World,” which aired from 1987-1993 and is still popular in the Black community ’til this day.
I can only imagine that if the “Carefree Black Girl” movement existed then, Freddie was the epitome of it.
Yet what caught my eye was Summer’s answer on what she thought about the term “Carefree Black Girl.”
Cree Summer on diversity in animation & the myth of the carefree black girl https://t.co/9W0BBPmlsf via @FusionPop pic.twitter.com/X6FxQT0cag
— Stacey E. Singleton (@staceyNYCDC) August 28, 2016
I can’t help but agree with Cree Summer. Being a Black girl isn’t easy, and sometimes it can even be an unpleasant experience. I can’t even count the number of times I experienced micro-aggressions, hateful comments, and just plain ignorance from being both Black and female.
Nevertheless, the movement has, at one time or another, helped me embrace my good moments, cheeky smiles, and big twist out. However, that was once upon a time. These days, I’m just not as attached to being a “Carefree Black Girl”.
[bctt tweet=”It’s a movement to encourage Black girls to embrace, love, and support each other.” username=”wearethetempest”]
If I could name anyone that would be the poster-child for the modern “Carefree Black Girl,” the first person that comes to mind is Willow Smith, along with Solange Knowles, Beyonce, and Rihanna. All of these celebrities have money, privilege, protection, and access.
It’s much easier being carefree, when you have the resources and access to do so.
I think back on my childhood, living in an area of Houston, a place outsiders called the “ghetto.” I quickly had to grow up and was exposed to life as it happens when you are both poor and Black. The environment had a “survival of the fittest” vibe to it, and the influences around me didn’t make it much easier.
Yet this is what happens when you are in the hood, living in a community where the odds are against you. Where you literally have to fight in order to survive.
I didn’t have the access to resources to be carefree – and, frankly, it wasn’t a priority. I was limited in the way I talked and how I acted. Try and be a “Carefree Black Girl” in the hood, and watch yourself get called a hood rat.
So when I graduated from high school I was excited to go to college. I could finally discover who I was on my own. I also knew I was less likely to be ridiculed by whatever journey I chose to take. I was no longer in an environment that did everything to hold me back, unfortunately because of how violent poverty could be. I now had more resources to travel, explore my identities, dress how I want, and do what I want. On the other hand, now that I’m a senior in college, I am slowly but surely realizing that this freedom will soon come to an end. The real world is a much crueler place and it just doesn’t sympathize with me truly being a “Carefree Black Girl.” Which brings me to this, not all of us have the option to be care free because we got stuff to lose. Some of us are just out here trying to make it and survive the next day.
Additionally, there has been a “new Black” movement going around. You can expect that in any conversation about how the Black community can move forward, that these statements will comeup:
“Black people need to stop being the stereotype.”
“We can’t expect people to respect us, if we don’t respect ourselves.”
As if respectability politics every helped anyone.
Imagine if #BlackLivesMatter groups dressed in suits and preached unity and love for everyone. They would be a billion times more effective.
— Conservative Candy (@ConservCandy1) October 19, 2015
This idea of dressing how you want to be addressed in our community can turn violent quickly, particularly if the amount of respect a Black girl gets is based on what she wears for the male gaze.
So here’s the thing about the “Carefree Black Girl” movement: it doesn’t include everyone.
What about the ghetto kids from the hood, the ratchet Black girl who’s the first one on the dance floor twerking the night away, the girls with the big hoop earrings and bright colored braids? What about the Black women that choose to embrace their sexuality? The Black girls that are loud and proud? The kids from the hood just trying to not only survive, but thrive? Those without the money, access, clothing, and that college degree?
Aren’t we just as magical and astounding as anyone else?
Lately, it seems like this is the type of “Black” that everyone wants to get away from. The type of Black that everyone wants to glorify and use for their latest fashion trends. However, at the same time talk down on. The type of Black that is made fun of for laughs and yet ridiculed because it only “brings us down” as the Black race.
When one thinks of the carefree black girl, they think of the natural hair hipster, the alternative Black girl, and the light-skin conventionally beautiful Black girl with the 3C hair. The model with a photographer to take pictures of her every move, and money in the bank from those bomb endorsements (I’m not knocking ya).
I question anything that is not inclusive to all. I love the idea of being carefree, but until we break down the systemic classist, sexist, homophobic, and racist ideals that stop every Black girl from truly being free, how will we make it? Especially with the idea of distancing oneself from the “stereotypical” Black person we see in the media, because you know we just aren’t all that “ignorant,” some of us are just “different.”
I know I truly can’t be carefree without the protection that those who have money and privilege do. Especially those that won’t be praised for being the cute alternative Black girl. Instead, she will be called a hoe, ghetto, hood rat, loud mouth, and nappy-headed girl that needs to tone it down.
For now I will strive to be the “conscious” Black girl, like Cree stated, who’s more aware of herself. I’ll work to be bold enough to call out the barriers that don’t allow all my Black sisters to truly be free, or shame those for being too Black or not Black enough.