OPINION: Cheer for Black girls with orange hair, long nails, tats, and lashes

A wise woman I know, once told her wailing granddaughter, “Save those tears because you’re going to need them for when you become a woman”.

Recently, I saw a screenshot on Instagram of Sha’Carri Richardson and the words, “Cheer for Black girls with orange hair, long nails, tats, and lashes”.

The next day I saw a trailer featuring a new documentary about her, produced by the late designer Virgil Abloh. The documentary was going to debut at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

I was so happy for Sha’Carri. However, I was shocked to read some of the cruel comments under the post containing the trailer.

One of the comments that stood out to me was about how a young “black girl who is only known for smoking marijuana, wearing long coloured lace wigs, ghetto lashes and long acrylic nails that came in last place was undeserving of a documentary”.

What a sting.

I feel this needs to be highlighted because this and similar belittling sentiments were written by Black commenters. I hate to see this because if White commenters and commentators said these very same things, Black commenters would scream racism and they would be absolutely correct. Racial micro aggressions are rooted in a biased system of unjust generational abuse.

I’m in no way making excuses for poor behaviour because poor behaviour is subjective. For those riding the hate train for Sha’Carri ask yourself, “Why am I so quick to turn on, tear down and be unforgiving of those who possess talent but has underperformed and made mistakes (especially during a time of grief) considering that they are young, learning and growing?”

Mistakes are how ALL humans learn, grow and evolve.

Is it because you and those who came before you were treated the same way in your environment?

When you finish writing belittling comments under posts about Sha’Carri’s looks, creative expression, her being undeserving and her coming in last place — go say those same exact things in front of a mirror (to and about yourself) because being classed as Black or BAME (Black, Asia and Minority Ethnic), understand that we’re viewed similarly and we’re all in the same last ‘place’ socioeconomically. Don’t let tokenism and the success of many Black individuals confuse you.

Black women and girls from the hood (“orange hair, long nails, tats, and lashes” or NOT) who are fighting tirelessly to claw their way out of the trenches they were born into (not trenches they created) are often overlooked academically and professionally yet their ideas have been stolen and capitalised off of. They are misunderstood, used as sex objects, pitted against each other, adultified, scrutinised and picked apart. Even if ‘she’ wins (in life), her confidence is often misconstrued as arrogance. Black women and girls cannot win for losing.

In some parts of the world, as a woman (wombman) she is still seen and addressed as ‘Girl’.

Women (wombmen) live in a patriarchal society. Do you understand Yin & Yang? There is an imbalance.

Men come into existence through the woman (hence the term wombman) yet and still she is so disrespected and disregarded by the man — therefore by society as a whole including her very own intimate community.

Black women and girls from the hood, who are fighting tirelessly to claw their way out of these trenches they were born into (not trenches they created) are constantly having to take the high road because the second she speaks up for herself — returning that same aforementioned energy — she’s seen in the wrong, ganged up on and risks losing support or opportunities. She is held to a different standard, a different set of rules, having to endure abuse by pretending to not see and feel the sting of insensitive comments, attitudes and stereotypes as if she is not human like everyone else.

It doesn’t matter if, “Whites do it too!”

Black women and girls, their creativity and culture (this includes orange hair, long nails, tats, and lashes) are still considered, ‘Ghetto until proven fashionable’ and this means being validated outside of their own community.

The thing about validation is that we don’t really need it but we do in order to be truly successful which to many, deep down, is being able to live the American dream.

Only time will tell if ‘Black’ inclusion is performative and black progress is only an illusion.

Beyoncé reminded us of these words spoken by Malcolm X, that still ring true today: “The most disrespected person [globally] is the Black woman. The most unprotected person [globally] is the Black woman. The most neglected person [globally] is the Black woman.”

In rap & hip-hop music the Black woman (wombman) is called B****, H** and S*** and her sons N*****?

Then to add insult to injury the Black woman (wombman) is disparagingly depicted and called masculine, bitter, crazy and angry.

How does the Black woman (wombman) respect herself in an environment that does not respect her?

Respectfully speaking, may Sha’Carri Richardson’s journey through adversity bring the necessary awareness to the plight of the Black woman (wombman) and inspire those who belittle her to take the time to deeply know yourself, love yourself, respect yourself and uplift yourself — this way you would naturally do the same for those who look like you, come from you and the same ‘place’ as you.

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