Issa Rae really did a lot of us justice with her web series. Truth be told, there’s few things that piss me off more than being told how I should and am expected to behave as a black girl. I love being chocolate, but as they say, heavy is the head that wears the crown. Us black girls have a lot of crowns we juggle. Some of these I consider pretty comical, as I am the definition of an awkward black girl, but others are just exhausting. At the worst, these expectations hit an old nerve: how many awkward black girls out there spent the better part of their adolescence being called ‘white’ by their peers for their musical tastes and interests? Now that’s small potatoes…if only it were that simple to spot as an adult. In the dating sphere, this dictation of my behavior often takes a trickier form. Very often we discuss how other races of men tend to project tired stereotypes onto black women (really, black bodies) without examining how black men also project some of these same tired stereotypes onto us. Usually, I don’t blame them, because there are some charms unique to black women that even we hold dear. However there are others I grow just plain sick of, like:
- Black girls can dance: And not dance for joy (carefree black girls on deck), but ‘dance for daddy’. It’s not your fault I can’t wine! I’ll start by saying that, but, damnit, I’m sick of dudes trying not so cleverly to figure it out within the first few hours of our acquaintance. Dude, if that’s so important to you, I’m sure there’s a service out there cataloging women with just that skill set. Happy hunting!
- Le Booty: Some of us got the booty and others of us don’t. Cool. But this idea that if I don’t have the booty I should aspire to the booty…just, no. Quit trying to feed me, I can feed myself, man! Can’t I just love what I have and give other women props for what they inherited (or bought)? Not everyone wants to eat and train to be a Nicki, some of us are just fine being a Kelly or Cassie.
- R&B will get us wet: Who doesn’t love a good slow jam or the occasional crooning of Ginuwine? raises hand Ok, I lie… I can dig some Ginuwine. But don’t expect any Trey Songz-esque panty-dropping over here. I know it’s hard to believe, but black girls are actually…not all the same! Gasp Some of us have entirely different personalities even! So, before you cash out that copy of Black Girls for Dummies, I suggest doing some good old fashioned field research first. You’d be surprised the things you learn.
- Black girls are “sexy”: We are, most definitely. I have no problem with being sexy so much as I have a problem with how ‘sexy’ is often defined for black women. The problem comes when the ‘sexy’ expected is the tired old emulation of the video vixen. Really, I’m a girl who prefers to spare the world my hobbling along in 6-inch stilettos. I like comfortable shoes and waltzing about make-up free without having to offer explanations or apologies for it. Sorry, I can only afford 18 in. of virgin Malaysian baby hair, not 24. Every so often you date a guy who starts hedging for all this ‘stunting’…errr, sorry, I’m not a ‘stunter’. I’m a ‘let’s do some jello shots eat pizza and watch the game of thrones season premier’er. Or a ‘kick up the dub step and let’s wig out’er.
- Black girls are “fun”: It’s funny to me how often ‘fun’ for men usually means ‘down to fuck’. In contrast, the more sexually reserved you are the more ‘boring’. Like, why can’t fun mean, I don’t know…loves to play paracheesi? Will steal your property and buy your family in monopoly? Goes all out in karaoke? But nope…conveniently my capacity to cut loose and have ‘fun’ is very often measured by my willingness to entertain men sexually, and the speed with which I do so. Do I really have to go into the tired trope of the hypersexual black jezebel? I’ll spare you.
- Black girls are “sexual”: Much in the same vein as my previous point, black girls are often expected to wear their sexuality on their sleeve. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been referred to as a prude or asexual simply because I don’t summon my sexuality on command for an undeserving male audience. I’ve known you all of a day and you want my nudes? We’re on our first date and you don’t get why I’m not exactly game to discuss your dick? Nigga, bye. This brings to mind all the half-assed shaming of women who didn’t suck dick in high school or college: It’s tired and it’s often a sure sign of a man-child. I have nothing against women who get down on their own terms, but I do have everything against men who prematurely try to fit me in this box based on the behavior of other black women they’ve dated or encountered. Just because I won’t fuck you, doesn’t mean I don’t fuck.
These are just a few of the expectations I encounter most often. A lot of these intersect with feminist issues that I’ll touch on in a later post. In the mean time, it’s back to my awkward brown girl pastimes (whatever those are).