Black Girls Aren't Being Given the Chance to Chase their Dreams
When I was a little girl, I had dreams of stardom.
Those dreams haven’t marginally changed. I still imagine seeing my name in both metaphorical and literal flashing lights. I see myself being dressed by the likes of Christian Dior, Ralph & Russo, and Oscar De La Renta.
For a while, I lost that dream. Instead, I wanted to be a domestic veterinarian. Then, inspired by Project Runway, I wanted to be a fashion designer. My dreams of stardom returned around age twelve when I decided I wanted to entertain-- act, sing, dance, and model.
Keeping that dream intact, since I’ve had dreams of being a restaurateur, advocate for the arts in black communities, and now I want to create worlds through my art.
Never did I say I wanted to be an activist.
As I sit here on my computer, sharing countless think pieces, political updates, and organizing in-person events and fundraisers, I realize that I never set out to become a civil rights activist, yet here I am in the flesh doing the work. I never wanted to be an activist, and honestly, I still don’t want to be.
I want to have fun. I want to live a carefree life. I don’t want to create work that puts a literal target on my back because I’m speaking up about the injustice marginalized communities go through. A lot of people tell me if I don’t want to do this, then I shouldn’t. They don’t understand how I complain constantly about all of this, yet I still will do the work.
I do the work because I want change. I do the work because I know what I went through as a little dark black girl who was always attracted to not only men but also other genders but refused to say she was anything other than straight.
I know what it’s like to have mental health issues such as cyclothymia, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders and not be taken seriously both inside and outside of the black community due to my melanin and systemic bias.
I do the work because if I don’t I’m choosing to be complacent with a system and structure that was created to hold back people like me.
I don’t do this work because I think it’s fun. Why would anyone ever want to go out of their way to put themselves in harm’s way, be consistently seen as someone who is negative and angry, and be non-stop castigated due to speaking up about their existence? My blackness is weaponized against me daily and fighting against that only makes me seem like a more violent and disagreeable person.
Black girls are losing the chance to fight for their dreams because they’re continually being called to fight for their rights and step into the roles required of activism, even if they don't call it that. A Rose by any other name is just as sweet as they march, protest, and demand the same rights given to others. Instead of creating art because we just love creating, like non-black (read: white) people are allowed to do, we end up having to mix our passion in with activism because we’re acutely aware that if we don’t fight, we can’t depend on others to do so for us.
Black girls aren’t born activists, yet we become them at an increasingly shocking (and in my opinion saddening) rate due to the lack of work being done by so called allies and the systems meant to support us.
Black girls shouldn’t have to mix activism with their passion.
Black girls shouldn't have to drop their passion in the name of activism.
They should be able to freely pursue what draws them to whatever it is they love without feeling the innate need to fight for the greater good and feel guilty if they don’t.
We shouldn’t have to give up our parts of ourselves for our basic rights.