Bad Black Girl
Bad Blogger is pleased to host Chimmy Lawson from The Pinker Print, as she discusses stereotypes, micro-aggressions and people's expectations of the millennial black girl. A must read!
It’s all very stressful. And although I start 70% of my memoirs with a similar thought, this one lies closest to my rapidly palpitating heart.
It always begins the same. I wait with baited breath and empty eyes as the person before me tries to find the appropriate adjective to describe their unpleasant surprise for the way in which I carry myself. “But you’re just so…” At this point I can practically see the clogs ticking over as they search for a less offensive way to spit out the venom.
Now normally, being labelled as ‘well spoken’, ‘cultured’ or ‘calm’ is the furthest thing offensive but when consciously coupled with genuine bewilderment, it suddenly gets super-heated in the shade.
The weird part is that people do not mean to offend me and when I point out the politically incorrectness of their micro-aggressive statement, they’re usually shocked and definitely terrified at the insinuation of racism but what usually knocks me for six, is fact that they had actually intended their back handed statement as a compliment, Yep, major palm tree and hella palm to face.
I’ve always made it clear that I feel a stronger identity pull towards my gender, culture and age. I resonate and empathise with women and our overlooked struggles. I give enthusiastic nods to nineties nostalgia and my obsession with rappers who mumble over Metro Boomin’ beats can only be described as concerning. I get riled up and pissed off at the injustices and inequality that young people have become so accustomed to dealing with and I delve between the realms of duality like the true tumblr pink millennial I am.
My life has been pieced together and bound with a series of experiences and memories unique to me and my characteristics. I was born in London’s now hipster Hackney and educated in a then white washed Enfield, I’ve worked in fast food joints and Parisian fashion showrooms, I was brought up on pie and chips, Sunday roasts and an aversion to plantain and yams. I’ve had friends who trap, rap and recreate BKchat in their living rooms, I memorise Kendrick Lamar lyrics and flirt with metaphors using Kenny Rogers ones. Even Islands in the Stream are not as juxtaposed as me.
“But you’re so… different!’
Nine times out of ten this refers to being ‘different’ for a black girl; liking ‘different’ things, having ‘different’ tastes and obviously being able to move ‘different’ and switch tingz up when necessary cah nobody wants a gyal who uses gun fingers in interviews init.
‘You know, you’re just not a typical black girl!’
Oh, and how are we stereotyping my people these days? I mean based on the earlier ‘well intended compliments’, I can assume that the typical black girl is uneducated struggling to grasp the basics of the English language, coarse and crass not knowing when to speak up and when to go into the more comforting default of silence and of course, too wild, too loud and too obnoxious to be taken seriously by anyone that matters?!
Whether in jest or not, people often think it’s acceptable to call me an Oreo, coconut or Bounty. I’m sure it’s self-explanatory but if you’re struggling to think why, please consider the colours of the interiors and notice how it differs to their outer shells.
Long before I have introduced myself or listed my interests, people have made their assumptions of me simply by looking at the colour of my skin. They’ve decided what food I eat, music I listen to and how I’ll pronounce certain words.
As we’re all smart enough to work out, skin colour is predeposit of genetics. Race cannot be chosen and contrary to bleaching cream ads, cannot be changed. What people fail to comprehend, is that race is not the only defining factor in the composition of individualism and for people like me, it is the smallest slice of the identity pie (chart).
Needless to say, I am black, I am proud and I am unapologetic about the misconceptions shamefully derived from ignorance. It is not okay to measure my blackness on a scale of fetishized ideals and hate-laced prejudices. It is not okay to compare my blackness to exaggerated TV characters and dim-lit reality stars. It is not okay to attempt to justify your claims of my un-blackness with examples of my playlists and wishlists…
For years, I’ve felt like the bad black girl. The girl who flattens expectations and bulldozes the fantasy of the ethnic ideal. I used to feel guilty, forcing myself into the appropriate box for the pleasure of others and with no air holes for myself. But guess what? I ran out of fucks to give and created my own space to breathe.