All posts tagged: Black women

Black Like Lauryn: How I Went from Baltimore Beauty to Diaspora Darling

My last year in college, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill was everywhere. All we listened to, all we sang. The strains of it wafted on the wind across campus. As a Black girl from the hoods of Baltimore, I played Miseducation as much as anyone else. So much, that now, more than 20 years later, I can still sing/rap every note, every word. Lauryn’s epic 1998 LP was groundbreaking, but the woman herself wasn’t new to me. I’d watched her on As the World Turns and in Sister Act II. I’d head-nodded along with her flow when she was a member of the Fugees. But there was something about Lauryn singing and being on her own that spoke to my young heart. Slender, dark, loc’d, full-lipped, rocking her Northern accent and what felt to me like matching aggression. Something about her beautiful Blackness that looked nothing like mine.  College is the time when kids go away just Black and come home BLACK. Before college, my concept of Blackness was home. West Baltimore. Relaxed hair teased …

Black woman in a barren darkened room, looking out of a window

A Freedom Song for Black Women

Black women are like flowers in a field of kudzu. Beautiful, bright and colorful, we fight our way to the light so we are not overcome by society’s demands that climb and shade, smother and constrict our true selves. There are so many ways to be Black and so many ways to be a woman.  Oh, to throw our arms wide and embrace the expansiveness of Black womanhood!  Hundreds of years of misogynoir* — misogyny directed at Black women — have made that harder than it should be, though. Slavers insisted our foremothers were bestial, fractious and over-sexed natural-born servants. They said so in order to commodify our gifts and shame the ones who loved us.  Good White America told Black women we are emancipated, yet still believes what the men and women, who once held our chains, said about us: Too hard. Too mad. Too untameable. Too loose. Too ugly. Too far from fine womanhood. Too contrary to whiteness. After years of terror and trauma and brainwashing, Good Black America believes some of these …

tuenight fifty 50 carolyn edgar

It Turns Out Black Does Crack, It Just Starts On The Inside

The author and her tattoo. (Photo courtesy Carolyn Edgar)   Not our faces, if we cleanse and moisturize and exfoliate consistently. Black women’s skin tends not to wrinkle. Our faces can look easily 10 to 20 years younger than our driver’s licenses say we are — if we maintain our health. But that’s the biggest if. Our health is where we black women tend to crack. Our black cracks from the inside out. It cracks under the weight of taking care of everybody but ourselves. It cracks under the pressure of smoothing out our rough edges and filing down our sharp tongues, lest we be tarred and feathered as angry black women for speaking our minds. And it cracks under our need to present our lives to the world as perfect, to counteract all of the negative stereotypes of black women and black families. We crack under the black-love-is-always-a-beautiful-thing pretensions of perfect marriages, children on the fast track to the Ivy League and well-behaved pets with glossy coats and camera-ready smiles. In February of this …

An Open Letter To Dark-Skinned Black Women Who Don’t Blush

Blushing is overrated. When I think of women who get red in the face (the cheeks and sometimes the forehead, too), I think of, well, white women. Not blushing is probably nothing that you ever felt insecure about. You probably never envied your towheaded colleague, who’s all Renee Zellweger (back when she looked like herself) and Nicole Kidman (back when she looked like herself) and Naomi Watts wrapped into one, as she was giving a PowerPoint presentation at work but forgot one of her lines or was stumped by a tough question from your boss and the embarrassment made her face turn into a stoplight. White women can have their blushing and all the conscious emotional advertising that comes along with it. (“Look at me, I’m nervous! Look at me, I’m flustered!”) Before I continue down this road of appreciation for non-blushers, let me say: God bless the blushers. Seriously. If they get red in the face at the right time, the whole world is awwww-ing at their feet. “Look at you! You’re blushing. How …