When I was little, I didn't own white barbie dolls, and I never saw movies like Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Beauty and the Beast. My version of Aesop's fables had a Goldilocks story featuring a little Black girl with gold dreadlocks. It wasn't that parents didn't like white people, but they did want me to understand that a white woman with blonde hair and blue eyes wasn't the only depiction of "beauty".
My mom made me aware of my privilege as a high-yellow (that's what we call it in the South) Black woman but also made it a point to let me know that I was a Black woman nonetheless. But as I grew older, as the only Black girl in my grade school class, I tried to dismiss the idea that I was different just because of my skin tone. I was sadly mistaken.
We all know, kids can be mean; and as hard as I tried to fit in, I always felt like an outcast. Nobody called me a n*gger or blackie, but I know for a fact that I was treated differently.
In these subtle moments of indifference, I understood that the color of my skin wasn't the only thing that made me Black, it was my experience; and when I say experience, I don't just mean the bad ones.
Hold that thought, I'll circle back.
Recently, Jordyn Woods was placed dead in the middle of a scandal featuring the Kardashians and Tristan Thompson. After being excommunicated from the clan by her former best friend, Kylie Jenner, and sister, Khloe Kardashian, Jordyn did an interview on Red Table Talk with extended family member, Jada Pinkett-Smith, where she was given the opportunity to shed light on her truth and deny the accusations against her.
Red Table Talk / Facebook Watch
Since then, Jordyn has been booked, busy, and tight-lipped. Last weekend at the Nigerian Homecoming Festival, the influencer spoke out once again, explaining how her family has gotten the brunt of her negative media attention. She explained:
"My little sister was bullied in school, and I wanted to show her that I was bullied by the world."
The statement that followed has gotten Jordyn in some serious hot water with Black Twitter:
"I understood for the first time what it's like being a black woman in a just society. How we can be so disrespected, and nobody can really understand to that extent until you have lived it."
Jordyn, girl. I'ma keep it real with you because I have love for you. But somebody taught you wrong about what it means to be a black woman. Although we sometimes feel defined by our experiences, struggle is not what makes us who we are.
@MadameNoire That’s her truth. Growing up surrounded by people of means and privilege may shield someone from the t… https://t.co/tFWg1Gct6X— Tina Spiwe (@Tina Spiwe) 1556122408.0
To some extent, I feel where Jordyn is coming from. The most disrespected woman in America is the Black woman. The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman, the most unprotected person in America is the Black woman, the most neglected person in America is the Black woman. Word to Malcolm X, I feel you, sis; but in 2019, Black women in America have been given the privilege by our ancestors to have other experiences, good experiences that define us, too.
I decided to take it to the streets and ask 4 women what they had to say about what it really means to be a black woman:
Sheriden Chanel, Managing Editor
"I've had many reaffirming moments about my Black identity throughout my life. Whether it's being acknowledged by a fellow Black woman that I'm glowing or yesterday, when the lady in the lobby told me that I was giving her a melanin charge with the embrace I gave her. I think the first time I ever felt that way specifically was the constant my dad provided in repeatedly making me aware of my magic. My skin is beautiful, my hair is beautiful, I am beautiful. My dad instilled the power of being Black AF in me always. When I have my fro out and when someone acknowledges my crown or whenever I referred to as a Queen -- I feel Black AF daily but the little moments other people bear witness to my magic makes me feel that power even more."
Michelby Whitehead, PR Specialist
"Trust me; I too get annoyed when white people scrunch up their faces in confusion right before I speak, acting like it's automatically difficult for them to interpret what I'm about to say. But the way white people see us has never resonated with my actualization of what it is to be Black. Every time I hear a new song of any genre and my hips catch the beat in less than five seconds, it's a reminder I'm Black AF. When I'm ready to embark on a new venture and see melanin faces that have done it before me with little resources, I'm reminded of what Black Girl Magic is."
Pep Holman, Bridal Coach
"One moment that made me feel Black as hell was during Hurricane Katrina. At the time I was in the National Guard and we set up a distribution center where we gave out food and water to families who just lost everything. I remember handing a box of food to a Black woman who looked completely shaken up. When she made eye contact with me, she gave the slightest smile and whispered, 'Thank you!' On that particular day, I was the only Black female sergeant on duty. I can express how proud I felt. I just know one thing, when you're in a crisis, there's a certain level of comfort that Black women provide -- Black Girl Magic."
Shellie R. Warren, Life Coach & Writer
"Every time I wear a graphic tee that praises unapologetic Blackness---from my one that shouts out Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee to my A Different World throwback to the one with Nipsey Hussle on it, every time I get complimented on my 'fro, every time my goddaughter tells me that I'm pretty, every time I look at the cover of my first book and know that the cover art is me...every time a Black man I don't know approaches me and says things like 'Thanks for remembering what you look like' on the days when I'm totally au naturale (true story right there)...I could go on and on about what makes me feel good about being a Black woman."
"For me, the reality of being Black is far more of a privilege than it could ever be a struggle. It's dopeness personified and amplified. Daily. My self-love and ever-evolving Black awareness makes anyone's issues with how God made me totally irrelevant. To me, anyway."
Jordyn, I'm sorry if you've never had these experiences, and that the only way you know how to define Black feminity is through struggle. There's so much beauty in our experiences, as well as who we are as Black women, even if you don't see that reflected in the mainstream.
Featured image by Jordyn Woods/Instagram.