2015 has been the year of the Black Womxn and we are only getting started.
From Viola Davis’ historical Emmy Award win, Amandla Stenberg schooling us on black culture ap-propriation, to Maria Borges and Nykhor Paul emphasizing the importance of black beauty in the high fashion world; black women have been pushing the boundaries and proving to the rest of the world that attitudes of inferiority towards us can propel us to fly higher.
Amandla Stenberg summed it up perfectly earlier this year when she said, “black female voices need to be uplifted within the mainstream feminist movement. Especially at this time. It’s crucial.” Why is it crucial? Because black womxn lives matter, that’s why! I’m so tired of constantly being told that the most beautiful womxn in the world are caucasian, blonde or brunette women. That when I search ‘beautiful women’ on Google, I am bombarded by a particular perspective of beauty standards. Well enough is enough! Black womxn, we will continue empowering and uplifting ourselves. We are going to redefine ourselves as people and remind the world that actually, ‘black girls are magic’ because they (the world) have clearly forgotten.
This year’s Victoria Secret’s show created buzz once again, but this time it was for a different call. When I read about Maria Borges being the first woman of colour to walk the runway with her natural hair, it puzzled me. Exactly why did it take so long for a black womxn to feel comfortable in her skin? Why did she have to ask for approval to be herself for the fashion show? If a model like her, who is walking international runways, is still battling to feel comfortable in her skin, how is an ordinary black womxn like me supposed to feel? Also, I applaud Nykhor Paul for calling out the fashion world for their appalling attitude toward African womxn; for too long womxn of colour have allowed people to bully and box them into a corner, and this is why we have exploded! No, we are not angry black womxn, we are frustrated, weary and oppressed. Thus being silent has done us no good, and this is why we have to be loud in order to make an imprint.
As a black woman, I want my fellow sisters to always remember that we are beautiful – our different tones of melanin prove that. People will not easily cease to undermine us and mock our bodies. But I say, continue to strut to the rhythm that you possess because no one can rock black beauty like you. Do not give them the satisfaction of hating yourself, that’s want they want from you. They know the power of your brains and beauty so they strive to take it away from you. My black sisters, I urge you keep rising against the challenges. Yes, it won’t be easy, but at the end it will be worth it. Let’s kill them with our successes and intelligence. Let’s help each other and build each other up to be the queens we are in our own ways.
As I watch and take part in this pro-black revolution, I know that the next generation of black girls will live in a better society than us because of how ‘woke’ we have become. I know that our future black girls will be able to turn on the TV or go the cinemas and regard it as a norm for black women to be dominating big and small screens. I know it will become a part of regular practice for them to pick up a magazine with a black woman gracing the cover. In this future, our daughters are overwhelmed by this radiance that we call black beauty. And that’s when we as the current black womxn will know that we have won the war. But until this happens, black womxn need to continue occupying powerful spaces and reminding the world that we are not going to conform to their idealistic perspectives. Until racism, sexism and class oppression is overcome, our battle as black feminists is far from won.