I'll never forget the day I saw it.
It was a Thursday and I was engaging in my normal midday Instagram scroll. The post read:
"I'm somewhere between Coretta Scott King and Cardi B."
For reference, Cardi B is one in the latest of female rapper success stories, who gained her claim to fame as the star of the hit reality show Love & Hip Hop New York. She is now the 5th female rapper since Lauryn Hill to lead the Billboard Top 100 Chart.
And if you don't know who Coretta Scott King is, then you my dear might need your Black Card revoked.
I am Whitley Gilbert. I am Cardi B. I am Coretta Scott King. I am Freddie Brooks. I'm every woman, it's all in meeeee
— MOla Darling (@maurachanz) December 29, 2015
At any rate, I laughed at the now viral meme at the time and even screenshot it so I could have a good laugh for later. However, later on, I found myself in a great deal of thought about that particular concept.
Is it really possible to be Coretta Scott King and Cardi B at the same time?
For many years, Black women have had a hard time navigating between the space of both being black and being a woman. We have been clumped into one set space of existence by society and have consequently been subjected to the misconceptions, misperceptions, and misplaced stereotypes cast upon us.
Whatever ideals and values we learned growing up also only narrowed the space in which we as black girls and women can exist:
Speak up, but not too much.
Speak out, but don't stir the pot.
Embrace your culture, but not like that.
Be confident, but don't be loud with it.
Be this way in order to be accepted, be that way if you want to get rejected.
What the aforementioned tones and ideals have projected is that one particular set of behaviors are what society is willing to accept and the other is cause for ridicule, backlash, and displacement and the two CANNOT coexist.
This however is inherently false.
I have friends who had 4.0 and above average GPA's in high school and college, who aim to become activists, nurses, and engineers and really bring about change in not just their local community but the world in general. They are some of the smartest, caring, mindful, and brilliant women I've ever met. These same friends, however, are the first ones to get up and tear it up on the dance floor the minute they hear “Cash Money Records taking over for the 99's and the 2000s."
But does the fact that they love a good twerk every now and then erase their accomplishments, aspirations, and intellect?
Does the fact that Cardi B is a liberated woman who grew up on the other side of the tracks stop her from embodying the rose that grew from concrete? Does it take away or discredit the name she's built for herself as a hip-hop industry feat?
If we later found out that Coretta Scott King frequented the juke joint back in the day, is that reason enough to discredit her intelligence and influence?
Some might say their issue with women that exhibit such “ratchet behavior" is that they lack self-respect. What is interesting to note and remember is the first word of that phrase: self. The whole concept behind self-respect is that the sense of worth, pride, dignity, and respect radiate from the inside out. Meaning that they themselves are the sole determinant of their own worth and anyone who tries to infringe or demean that worth will hold no bearings.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent right, or is that line of thinking only reserved for those who fit into the mold of respectability?
Who are we to ascribe and project low self-esteem and respect to another woman just because her barometer of worth is different from that of our own? Who are we to try to box in an aspect of another woman's personality because it makes us uncomfortable? Who are we to deny others and ourselves the right to freely exist in all of our many facets, faces, and phases?
In the season 4 premiere of Black-ish, actor Anthony Anderson opens his white collared button down to expose his undershirt that reads “I am my ancestor's wildest dreams."
The sentiments behind the statement is one that we should remember and take solace in. No matter the circumstances, we ALL have the ability to be our ancestor's wildest dreams.
From the loud, ghetto woman working two jobs overcoming hiring discrimination to take care of her responsibilities and put food on the table, to the heavily degreed woman who finally makes over 6 figures in her corporate job who overcame the same. They have all overcome life obstacles and have reached a level of success that once seemed out of reach for people of color.
They all are worthy of respect and deserve the right to be embraced not just for what they achieved, but for who they are.
Every dimension of our personality is what makes us who we are and the presence of one not-so-favorable trait does not negate the essence and beauty of what we can or have accomplished.
We have become and we are becoming concurrently.
We are perfectly imperfect simultaneously.
We are both masterpieces and works in progress and that my dear is what makes us worthy.
How do you own your duality?
Shanelle Harris is a Southern-based freelance writer & fashion social media curator. Her writings have been featured on Blavity. She's currently pursuing her undergrad degree in Mass Communications/PR. When she's not in class or writing, you can catch her quoting Drake lyrics and spreading #BlackGirlMagic one outfit post at a time. You can follow her on IG: @random__nelle.
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Many have wondered if one time is ever enough to see Queen Bey. Some argue yes. However, many of us on the opposite end of the spectrum, including myself, would disagree. Beyoncé's "Renaissance World Tour" is a universal yet varying experience for everyone who attends. In the words of Oprah Winfrey, the concert is "transcendent." For millennials, we have over two decades of her catalog that has served as the soundtrack for many of our lives and painted a personal portrait of our most coveted thoughts. Her music provides mental clarity and self-expression by serving as a universal language that has united fans from all walks of life through community, fashion, self-acceptance, and healing.
With a multi-layered approach to her artistry, just as she did on that winter day in December 2013 with the infamous digital drop of her self-titled album, she changed the game again on February 1, 2023, when she announced her world tour in support of Renaissance, her seventh studio album. Her cultural impact set the internet ablaze, with everyone trying to gather their coins, barter for presale codes, and figure out which cities to attend. The group chats were lit, and the Beyhive was stressed trying to get their hands on tickets.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
Unfortunately, I was in that number. As the concert dates passed by and the one in my city drawing near all roads led to disappointment. With time ticking on the day of the Miami show and less than two hours to spare, my wallet bit the bullet, and I purchased three last-minute tickets, costing roughly $700.00 a piece (including fees) for me, my 9-year-old and 16-year-old nieces in Section 121 at the Hard Rock Stadium. With 10 minutes before showtime, we eagerly awaited the Queen to take the stage. A sea of metallic fringes, cowboy hats, disco fans, and western boots were in full effect and filled the entire stadium.
As the lights dimmed, a flood of emotions instantly overtook my body. It continued with each note she belted, along with nearly 50,000 roaring fans. The reverberating sound of the music through the stadium transported me from one era of my life to the next. As a teen girl in her bedroom daydreaming about her first love to blossoming into an unapologetic Black woman who is still on a road of self-discovery while learning to lean into the power anthem of "You won't break my soul." For over two hours, and with each set, I felt joy, love, peace, and a commanderie with fellow concertgoers. It was therapeutic as I danced like no one was watching and sang as if I were alone in my bathroom mirror.
There were no bars held, and I realized at that moment, "Nobody can judge me but me." The "Renaissance World Tour" proved to be so vast, and my Black girl joy was re-invigorated. It was magnetic and liberating, and I had to attend again, but this time, I needed to be up close and personal; I needed to be on the floor. In the days that passed, I watched more social media clips in different cities and asked myself if I would really splurge again to attend another Renaissance show.
Photo courtesy of Dontaira Terrell
After all, this would be my thirteenth time (maybe more because I lost count) seeing Beyoncé live, whether she was on tour with Destiny's Child, as a solo artist, or doing a live appearance. I contemplated for a while, but it worked itself out on its own. I was gifted two tickets and the next thing I knew, I was off to LA to attend another Renaissance show with floor seats at SoFi Stadium during Beyonce's 42nd birthday weekend! This time, things were different: no kids were allowed. It was adults only this go round.
Although the energy at the Miami and Los Angeles shows was empowering, infectious, and a celebration of life, happiness, and identity, they each provided their own unique experience. However, both concerts were what I needed for my well-being, leaving me with sore feet from dancing the night away, on vocal rest for the next few days from screaming at the top of my lungs, and on an indefinite high on life.
My introduction and love for Beyoncé began in 1996, while my older sister lived in Houston, TX, right before Bey hit the scene in 1998 with "No, No, No" as a budding R&B member. Her evolution twenty-seven years later as an international superstar and into womanhood has been an incredible journey to witness. As Mrs. Carter reminds each of us in the audience every night before the curtain closes, "I want you to remember this moment, where you're standing, who you came with, and take it with you. I hope you feel inspired."
I truly felt inspired, so thank you, Queen Bey. You awakened my inner child, and I will definitely remember these moments and take them with me.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/WireImage for Parkwood