One of my newest favorite things, accelerated by the pandemic, is novelty T-shirts. I’ve bought so many in the past 15 months, I dare say I have a little collection. They’re mostly Black women affirming shirts—ranging from those that hail fictional mavericks, like Maxine Shaw, attorney at law, to one with a woman wearing a headwrap embroidered on the front.
I seek these shirts out and buy them for friends and folks who work at The Lighthouse. A shirt I see occasionally during my searches that confuses me is one with “Unapologetically Black” emblazoned across it. I’m never sure who the intended audience for that message is. White people, like, “This is a warning”? Other Black people, like a “Don’t get it twisted, I’m the real deal” kind of thing? Whooo?! What does it meaaan?! We at The Lighthouse, Black Girl Projects make no apologies: We are Blackity Black, then a Little Blacker.
We often hear people talk about Blackness not being a monolith; we believe that to be true. We also believe as Barbara Smith and the other members of the Combahee River Collective drafted in their statement, “If Black women were free, it would mean that everyone else would have to be free since our freedom would necessitate the destruction of all the systems of oppression.” Each person who works here, no matter their race, gender expression or other way(s) of being acknowledges that sentiment is part of the organization’s ethos. One of the wonderful things about where we are—this organization, this moment in time, this reckoning—is our determination that our embrace and celebration of Black womanhood isn’t done so to the exclusion of other things. That’s what we’re lifting up this June.
So, yes, June is Blackity Black, then a Little Blacker because it’s Black Music Month. Juneteenth. Pride. BBQs. Father’s Day. A celebration of Black businesses. In June we’re hailing whatever is happening—that’s not news, unless it’s good—but Blacker. And I suppose we’re doing that unapologetically!