Every Sunday at 9:30am, I teach a Sunday School lesson to two smart, fantabulous, beautiful Black girls! And I cherish these girls (6th grade and 9th grade) as though they were my little sisters. I always wanted to be a big sister to someone, and I guess I have unconsciously played out this role to these girls. It’s funny because I have never seen myself as the “leader” type. I have always wanted to hide behind my “shyness” and my “niceness.” I’ve never wanted to be in control of anything. Yet, I want to be the best role model that I can be to these two girls. Indeed, I am a human, and I will make mistakes. But I never want to do anything that causes them to wonder: “What happened to our Sunday School teacher?”
If anything, I want these two young girls to see their identity in Christ. I want them to always live by God’s Word as it says that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14, KJV). I also desire for them to see their beauty as Black girls. As American society has shown us over and over again, blackness does not equal beauty. Blackness ends up being a bruised, tortured, and criminalized thing. Blackness is something that has been attacked since our ancestors were taken away from the continent. The attacks have continued since then. It is so clearly seen in the killing of young Black men and Black women.
Last Sunday, I asked the girls to pray for the nation. I hoped that in our prayers, we could pray for everything that has happened in Ferguson, New York, etc. I am paraphrasing, but one of the girls said the following words: “I pray that the racist cops would stop killing people.” I was so glad to hear her say those words. After she prayed, I took the time to ask the girls what they knew about the acts of police brutality. We ended up having a short conversation about it. I don’t want the girls to separate themselves from what is going on around them. Everything that is going on around us, affects us. It affects our Blackness. It affects us as Black Christians, and it is our responsibility to pray. To pray and to act.
I want the girls to love themselves as Black girls because internalized racism is real. I remember growing up and seeing Halle Berry as the image of beauty. And yes, she is beautiful, but I equated light skin and straight hair to beauty. Anyone who was lighter than me was beautiful. Television, the media, displayed this Eurocentric ideal frequently. I didn’t have the understanding that I could be beautiful. That natural hair and brown skin could be beautiful. I had to travel down the road of racial consciousness to get to that point.
So, I hope that the the girls will always embrace their beauty and their uniqueness. I don’t want them to feel pressured to fit into a box. Society likes to box Black women into the strong Black woman stereotype. You know, the image of Black women as people who are so strong that we do not even cry. We are always angry about something. This stereotype is harmful because it strips away our humanity. Being strong doesn’t mean that a person can’t be vulnerable or be a human. Then, there’s the hypersexual stereotype. You know, the stereotype where all Black women are seen as the video girls in the Rap videos. Again, this stereotype makes it seem as though Black women do not possess intellect or creativity. That we are not human.
I can say that I am excited to see the girls embracing their individuality. The 9th grader, who is also my cousin, loves superhero movies, fashion, music, and books. She even wants to go to Comic-Con one day. I told her and the 6th grader that I would be up for taking them to Comic-Con. I don’t like to fit into a box either.
It’s nice to see these Black girls grow and pursue their interests. I feel like they are a part of a new generation of Black girls who don’t fit. And they don’t have to fit because they can be themselves. They can be cool, quirky, quiet, loud, and even awkward. I want the girls to see themselves as God has made them. And if I could quote someone, I would quote Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.” She says:
“Oh but my joy of today
Is that we can all be proud to say
To be young, gifted and black
Is where it’s at”
-Blessings, y’all 🙂