How Twitter Perfectly Captured the Complexity of #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl7/03/2015
by C. Imani Williams The Twitter hashtag #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl, created by Jada Mosley , gar...
by C. Imani Williams
The Twitter hashtag #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl, created by Jada Mosley, garnered over 21,000 tweets on its first day, and its still going. Mosely's vision for the hashtag came after she viewed a documentary on LGBTQ individuals for a college psychology course. The conversation manifested into a space for Black women and girls to discuss how we grapple with the complexities of our lives and navigate the impacts of current events—such as the tragedy and senseless loss of life in Charleston; the continuous acts of interpersonal and institutional violence perpetrated against black women; and the time we spent as community watching the unraveling of Rachel Dolezal's co-opting and appropriation of black women and culture.
#HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl became an online empowerment space—utilizing video, memes, and heartfelt words for and by us. Through #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl, we could vent and express ourselves honestly about the stereotypes and “-isms” projected onto us via white supremacy and an uninformed sense of black consciousness. Through the hashtag, our tweets on sass, boldness, hurts, hopes, and humor were all welcome.
The hashtag pointed to the truths experienced by black women. They ranged from taunts over skin tone (being considered too fair or too dark), to the complexity of love and interpersonal relationships with black men. The tweets showed a definitive disconnect between black women and men on an intrinsic level. The discord had some sisters feeling as if they are not respected, protected, or wanted by our brothers. The rejection many black women face by being passed over for white, Asian, and Latina women leaves sisters, wondering where the black man’s love is for his mother and sisters.
The tweets showed a need for black men, white people, and and other people of color to better understand who we, as black women, are. They show how often black women have to summon grace as we encounter sexism, racism, ageism, and homophobia in our daily affairs. Society and media see us as less than, doing the most to try and destroy our warrior energy and spiritual reserves. They fear us most of all.
Thus, our collective stories and concerns, shared through bite sized 140 character chunks, broke down the dynamics of black women’s everyday lived experiences. Below are ten tweets that sum up the complex beauty and struggle of #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl for the rest of the world.
1. We’re expected to speak up for others, but never for ourselves.
#HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl Can't be angry bur must defend Our people. Can't be sad but must deal with constant sexism AND racism quietly...— Nunya Bizness (@DaRudity) June 21, 2015
2. We’re always expected to be the “Strong Black Woman” and nothing else.
#HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl you always have to be the strong one— Something With A T (@haveumettanisha) June 21, 2015
3. We’re stereotyped as being angry, violent, and unstable.
#HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl Being treated unfairy as if you are more violent/unstable bc you get angry.— Dx (@Dani3ll) June 20, 2015
4. We often have to work twice as hard without any of the recognition.
#HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl It's not easy we gotta work 2 times as hard because we're black and women but we somehow make it look like magic— lil em-jay (@mjayyxjones) June 21, 2015
5. Our resilience is seen as undesirable.
#HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl made to feel like your strength or attitude is a bad thing and like your men don't want u— Bae-yoncé (@Im_Supaflii) June 21, 2015
6. We’re often never allowed to trust or see our own beauty.
#HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl when u have beautiful 🍫 skin but u ugly BC u that dark.— Sadiee_breezy (@sadie_babi) June 21, 2015
7. We are hypersexualized and objectified, but never seen as human beings deserving of love.
#HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl having your body fetishized and sexualized but not loved.— Wristopher Wallace (@kashmirVIII) June 21, 2015
8. And yet, despite all this… We love what being a Black girls means.
9. We can uplift and affirm ourselves.
I love being a black girl. I love my kinky hair! I love being able to sit in the sun for hours! I love being A GOD #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl— QUEEN BEAST (@StinaLefty) June 21, 2015
10. #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl? “Good as hell…”
#HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl ; It Feels Good As Hell Especially When Your Educated, God Fearing & Bold.— TհɑԵ GíɾӀ ✨ (@DESStinee_) June 21, 2015
#HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl is an ongoing exercise in speaking up and out as Black women. We must be responsible for finding and implementing solutions that aid in our well-being. Sisters are doing it for ourselves. Thank you to Jada Mosley for bringing new energy. And we need to keep the momentum moving. Let others know: #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl.
C. Imani Williams, is a freelance writer and human justice activist. She holds an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction writing from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and a Masters in Guidance and Counseling from Eastern Michigan University. Her work has been published in Between the Lines, Tucson Weekly, The Michigan Citizen, Harlem Times, and with various popular culture, health, news blogs and magazines. She is a regular contributor with For Harriet.