Gender & Identity Life

Why being a “Carefree Black Girl” is not as inclusive as we would like to think

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.”

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.

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.

Race The World Inequality

Black men have been silent about Black women like me for too long

I was only a teenager walking back home from exercising at the track at my old middle school and I still recall this next moment. A group of boys in a car were mad at me because I refused to get in. After my refusal the young teenagers shouted, “Fine you ugly a** b***h!” Another one yelled, “Yea, you stupid a** hoe, no one wanted your ugly a** anyways.” I rushed home because I was terrified and extremely aggravated about what just happened.

I have been followed, whistled at, harassed, dealt with unwanted hands gripping my hips, and this was all even before I was 18. However, one thing I can always depend on, is when I do have the nerve to turn these men down, they will retaliate because they can’t no for an answer.

This week, I opened my Twitter to see tweets about a young Black woman named Tiarah Poyauwith the line Rest in Peace. Tiarah was a 22-year-old college student just like me: young, hopeful, and full of dreams. My heart dropped and then I clicked the link to find out what exactly happened.

It turns out  Poyau, went to the J’Ouvert festival in Brooklyn that night. Like any of us when we plan a night out with our friends, we expect to have fun, dance the night away, and come back safe and sound. I guarantee that Tiarah didn’t think that that rejecting the man grinding on her would then next shoot her in the face.

One of the issues that this stems from is hyper-masculinity. It’s the fact that men feel like they have private and automatic access to women’s bodies. This is what happens when we encourage men to retaliate when women put them in the “friend zone.” Or when men feel like women are obligated to give them a relationship or an ounce of their time, because they are one of the few “nice guys.” 

This is what happens when we don’t scold men for following women down the street trying to get a number. This is what happens when we tell our daughters that boys are mean and hit us, because they like us. This is what happens when we say “boys will be boys.”

This is what happens when we laugh and re-tweet shit like this not, knowing why the woman in this video refused a proposal in the first place. In the comments, people don’t even care if he treated her bad, all that mattered is that she shouldn’t have embarrassed him.

Thus, the cycle of hyper-masculinity continues, and men are left weak and fragile, refusing to take a straight no for an answer. Black women are dying at the hands of violent men looking for revenge for their bruised masculinity, and, let’s face it, lately the perpetrators have been Black men.

I clicked the hashtag and noticed that there was something missing. Most of the outrage of the recent incident was from, (you guessed it) Black women. It has been said many times that the violence Black women face in our own community is too often erased and ignored. Although violence against Black women is a #BlackLivesMatter issue the lives that are mostly publicized are mostly cis-gendered straight Black men. Ask folks to mention a Black women killed by violence and the only one they may be able to speak of is #SandraBland. Black women are being killed and our experiences are constantly ignored and erased, and not mentioned. Typically, Black women are often the movers and shakers of movements centered around Black Liberation However, when we need someone to step up for us no one is present but ourselves and our allies.

Although Tiarah is one of the most recent victims, there are so many more.

Joyce Quaweay was only 24 when she was beaten to death by her boyfriend and his friend, handcuffed naked to a bench. Joyce was the mother of two daughters and the father was her boyfriend and murderer Aaron Wright. Her babies watched closely as their mother’s life was brutally taken away. Apparently, Joyce Quaweay wasn’t “submissive” enough. Aaron Wright lost his job as a police officer at Temple University.

Or Jessica Hampton, who was only 25 when John S. Jones stabbed her, slit her throat, and torso, when she shook her head no after he asked whether she would have her baby. That day on social media, many Black men stated they wouldn’t step up themselves because they don’t want to lose their lives. Even those on the train that day watched and recorded what happened, while Jessica Hampton was brutally murdered in front of their eyes.

Mary Spears was only 27 when she was killed for telling a man that she was involved with someone.

These stories left me outraged and showed that the violence against Black women in the Black community has yet to be addressed. I have organized rallies and protests, and seen firsthand that more people show up for Black men than Black women. I’ve been a part of organizations that have not once brought up the violence and danger Black women face in our community and the outside world. I have been told off by Black men that felt as if I wasn’t organizing for their own liberation enough but they would never show up for me.

I have seen Black men that won’t call out their brothers or work with Black women to erase toxic masculinity. I have tweeted about the struggle of being both Black and woman, and Black men that follow me won’t even speak up unless I am being vocal about someone that looks and lives like them.

Why are Black women being erased from these conversations? Why are our lives being ignored? Black women deserve the same justice and momentum that Black men get when their lives are brutally taken away. Where is everyone when Black women need them the most?

Thankfully, some Black men have came together to organize in different communities, and start the conversation about gender relations and gender-based violence in the Black community.

While writing this I think of Tiarah Pouyau, Jessica Hampton, Mary Spears, and the many women that have been killed all because they told a man no.

I think of myself and how those that know me, know that there is nothing more that I love than going out and being in the middle of the dance floor with my friends around me.

I think of how many times I had to say no to a guy’s advances, and worry that the backlash would be even worse the next.

I think of Tiarah Poyau and how she could’ve been me. I think of how society constantly tells women how to dress, how to protect herself, and when and where to go out to avoid being attacked, raped, or killed.

I think of how all the pressure of preventing men’s attacks has been the burden of women. However, not once has society addressed men.

Today, I am afraid to be both Black and woman. Today, I am afraid that if I tell a man no, that he may just kill me for it.

Lastly, I am afraid because if I am killed, would my own community stand up for me? I just don’t know if I can depend on the Black man for that anymore. What I do know is that Black women must be protected at all cost. If you are silent about the violence and struggle against Black women you are not pro-black, you will never be pro-black, and you were never here for us in the first place.

Race The World Inequality

Priority admission will never repair the suffering Georgetown University slaves went through

I come from the great state of Texas that has literally erased the history and the true brutality of slavery from our schools and textbooks. The reality of the cruelty of chattel slavery in America is often displayed as a sugar coated fantasy that is over simplified, dishonest, and unrealistic.

Slavery is often a topic brushed off and ignored for something more favorable and modern. Often, concern from Black Americans about how the institution of slavery impacted our current experiences are often met with demands telling descendants to, “get over it, slavery was a long time ago.”

Until this day, Black Americans haven’t received a dime for centuries of brutality and unpaid labor that is responsible for the majority of today’s economy. Even the promise of forty acres and a mule was quickly taken away after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Black Americans had to pick themselves up from bootstraps they never had in the first place. However, even with my ancestors’ newfound freedom, every move made to establish independence and equality was met with hate and violence that left us years behind in trying to catch up to our White counterparts.

On September 1st, 2016, Georgetown University president John J. Degrecia gave a public apology to students and faculty about its hand in slavery. The move was made in response to students’ cries and demands that the public institution acknowledge and address its dark past.

The university has now promised to step forward with promises of renaming campus buildings after some of the slaves, a non-profit called the Georgetown Memory Project, a memorial, removing the names of the presidents over the sale of slaves from buildings, and the creation of an institute for students to study the America’s history of chattel slavery.

However, the biggest offer the media’s been buzzing about is giving descendants of Georgetown University “priority admission,” the same privilege given to family of alumni.

The promises altogether seem very reassuring. I also commend the university’s apology, as well as its establishment of educational implementation and institutional changes, to recognize not only its part, but the lives of Georgetown slaves. The fact is that Georgetown University wouldn’t have made it without selling the slaves of Georgetown to keep the University going. It made 115,000 dollars from auctioning off slaves, which is the equivalent to just about 3.3 million dollars today.

The question is, do the descendants of Georgetown slaves deserve more? Some have even argued that the privilege of priority admission shouldn’t even be given. Yet the descendants of Georgetown slaves deserve much more than a couple of extra points on a first class admission ticket to college.

Especially if it may be no use to the many generations that aren’t far removed from slavery. Keep in mind, slavery wasn’t even that long ago and carried on past 1865, especially in Southern states. My great-great-granddaddy is still alive until this day, and is the grandson of a slave. My great-great-great-granddaddy Tutu died in the year I was born, 1993. My three times great granddaddy was born in 1875, and he couldn’t read or write, but he knew the Bible front and back.

To make it worse, slaves were often separated from their families. They were often given their new owner’s last name once reaching a new plantation. The erasure of one’s former identity was done purposely so families couldn’t reconnect to their past. This just may be the case for the many descendants of Georgetown slaves. With a lack of documentation, proof, or maybe even a story passed down, not everyone will have the privilege to proclaim that they are a descendants of Georgetown slaves.

Georgetown slaves were taken from the state of Maryland and sold to the state of Louisiana. Although the university itself has created a non-profit that will work to find the descendants, it makes me wonder how long this would take and whether they would be successful with the amount of resources they have. The number of slaves sold in 1838 was 272, which means you have a long line of descendants standing behind them.

The truth of the matter is that Georgetown University and many other institutions and corporations would not be in existence today, if it weren’t for the labor of enslaved African Americans. The university profited off of the slave trade, and therefore descendants and generations deserve much more than “priority admission.”

The University’s investment page states that “at the end of the most recent fiscal year, ending June 30, 2015, Georgetown’s pooled endowment was approximately $1.5 billion.” It’s time to realize that the institution of slavery is the backbone and life source for the American economy today.

It’s great that Georgetown chooses to acknowledge their role and educate students on the topic. However, the refusal of reparations or any type of compensation is the exact reason why African Americans haven’t got a strong establishment in this country till this day.

Yeah, we all know slavery is over and it isn’t current students’, faculty’s, or white America’s fault. However, the institution itself has gained much more because of the slave trade, and that is enough of a reason to hold the institution responsible.

Gender & Identity Life

Your color-blindness could just cost me my life

“PAY ATTENTION EVERYONE! There will be people on the road following us, calling you names, trying to provoke you to get a response!”

“Ignore them, stick together, and keep moving!”

This is what we were told to do on our first day preparing for the march ahead. I remember my grandma sending me a message on Facebook telling me, “don’t be no fool, stay low,” and that she loved me.

I couldn’t help but think to myself, what do I have to be afraid of?

I was excited to be a part of the longest march in history. The movement was called the “Journey to Justice” with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. It consisted of a march that started in Selma, Alabama and ended in Washington, D.C. I couldn’t help but think that, just maybe, my ancestors were proud of me. I had nothing to be afraid of, and wanted to let the world know that our lives matter.

The police were there to make sure we would be safe and the only thing I was worried about was marching twenty miles a day.

I finally snapped out of it when I found myself standing next to my partner, trying not to look at the angry white supremacists telling us to go away.

On top of that, during the whole trip, we were chased down and harassed with Confederate flags. Met at every water stop by white supremacist protesters. Yelled and cursed at to get off a bus on the side of the road by restaurant owners. Walking through a town where even the police called themselves the KKK.

I hoped and prayed every night for our safety. I looked at my grandma’s message again on Facebook, and thought about what I got myself into.


As a community activist and organizer, the experience I had a little over a year ago is something I will never forget. I’ve always been passionate about the fight for justice and equity for marginalized voices. However, despite my experience as a person of color in America, it is often ignored in favor of a more “colorblind world.” A world where race and color doesn’t exist, but people only see you as a human being, a part of the human race. Hey we all bleed the same blood, right?

However, even though people would like to believe that ignoring race will help us move forward, it would only take us back.

This is not only a calling out but also a calling in. I noticed in discussions and debates that many who use the colorblind approach have good intentions, but the overall impact does no good. It takes us, as people, to be willing to unlearn the fact that we have been taught not to talk about race, in the guise of attempting to move forward.

Race is not biological, race is a “social construct.”

However, race has been used as a tool  to divide and conquer different groups of people, based on their external differences. Historically in America, race has been used to justify that darker skin color means inferiority to those of European descent.

As a result, history has been full of people in power using those exact differences to create and justify colonization, enslavement, genocide, discrimination, racial wealth disparities, and brutality.

It’s no wonder that so many people want to ignore race, because the construct itself has created so many issues. However, it would be no good to get rid of a construct that is so deeply ingrained in our history and culture.

Colorblindness seeks to ignore race in hope for a better future. However, the issue at hand is the system of racism, not race. The approach also erases someone’s identity, their very essence.

Our diversity and differences should be celebrated, not erased. What is more important is addressing the racist attitudes and ideologies that remain because the construct and historical relevancy of race.

There are too many articles online proclaiming statements like, “I don’t see race”, “Racism isn’t always the answer,” “Black people love to pull the race card,” and the big one, “This is the land of the free, pull yourself up from your own bootstraps.” These are often used as defense mechanisms to ignore and derail conversations about race – which is a dangerous reality. According to The Guardian, 181 Black people have been killed by police this year.

As a Black person, I can’t help but wonder that I could be next. I could be at the right place at the right time, minding my business, and still lose my life. Often a life lost due racial profiling, suspicion, and assumption. I wonder if the media and society would use my past to validate why my death is not an issue.

I keep looking back on those days in Georgia. Community organizers and activists know that the work we do can be dangerous. However, we do it for our community, for love, hope, and justice for tomorrow.

America was never a post-racial society to begin with and we most likely will never get to that point. Therefore, using the approach of being colorblind when it comes to racial issues won’t change a thing. I could lose my life today, or tomorrow, at the hands of someone that did it because they thought I was a “threat.” Then afterwards not have the justice I deserve because someone chose to ignore my experience and why it didn’t matter in the first place.

We can never move forward if we don’t talk about race and the issues minorities face, because of the system the construct has created. Ignoring it only allows for the progression of White supremacy. More people lose their lives every day because of what we choose to ignore and I could be next.