Carefree Black Girls. It’s the single most Black girl-empowering phrase of the decade. Don’t argue with me. Search the hashtag on Instagram and you’ll see roughly 75,000 beautiful Black women doing yoga, promoting their passion projects, on vacation, hanging with their gal pals and looking incredible while doing it.
In light of Jemele Hill’s recent suspension from ESPN (she’s since resumed her anchor chair), our beloved Lupita Nyong’o sharing the story of her assault by Harvey Weinstein, and countless (no, really, countless) other accounts of Black girls and women falling victim to tragedy and injustice, it doesn’t always feel so possible to be a carefree Black girl. So how did we make it here?
The irony of being a carefree Black girl is that maintaining this attitude requires lots of care and little freedom.
But my girls and me? Oh, we’re making it happen. Here’s how we’re doing it.
We create our own safe spaces. Our group chat is a sacred safe-zone where we can bare our souls without having to leave the comfort of our homes. Introverts, unite! On any given day, we can laugh ourselves into tears with memes, talk about how we’re finally overcoming the trauma of our childhoods or make an earnest attempt to figure out what the hell is wrong with men.
And when we need company or a shoulder to cry on? One call and someone is on their way with a bottle of wine and a listening ear.
When it’s time to party, we know how to create an impenetrable human chain to navigate through a club crowd or cuss a man out for trying to touch one of our girls.
We are subject-matter experts on self-care. Contrary to the verbiage, carefree Black girls need self-care when the weight of the world trips us up.
We find comfort in perusing the aisles of TJ Maxx and Target to find new skincare and loungewear. We’ve mastered the art of drawing the perfect bubble bath and have figured out the right combination of candles needed to take one in the dark. Many of us treat literature and movies like medicine and know what to prescribe for our troubles. “Milk and Honey” for a bad breakup; “Eat, Pray, Love” for self-discovery; “Waiting to Exhale” for tears that need to turn to laughter-inducing lessons.
We’ve overcome our fears of addressing mental health. And we realize it’s going to take more than prayer to treat ourselves. We see the light and push ourselves toward it.
We are comfortable in our own skin. While there are inevitable days where nothing seems to fit right and our skin seems to be betraying us, our camera rolls are filled with hundreds of selfies. We catch ourselves admiring our booties in the mirrors and someone of us–OK, me–have almost rear-ended a car or three because I couldn’t stop checking myself out in the rearview mirror. What can I say? My brows were particularly fleeky.
We also know what backhanded compliments are and we’re prepared to throw that hand right back to Mr. “You’re Really Pretty for a Black Girl.”
Lastly, we realize the lessons we learn aren’t one and done. Issues like Black girlhood erasure, systemic racism, marginal earnings in comparison to our white male counterparts, patriarchy and being pimped out by white feminism, just to name a few, don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. That doesn’t stop us from appreciating all of our carefree Black glory.
You can be carefree, too.
Ashlee is a project manager and marketing maven. When she isn’t helping Community Solutions end homelessness in 125 communities, she’s musing about Black Girls for The Lighthouse. Cooking restaurant-quality cuisine at home and being a wine snob son her favorite kinds of self-care.