How Twitter Perfectly Captured the Complexity of #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl

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.

2. We’re always expected to be the “Strong Black Woman” and nothing else.

3. We’re stereotyped as being angry, violent, and unstable.

4. We often have to work twice as hard without any of the recognition.

5. Our resilience is seen as undesirable.

6. We’re often never allowed to trust or see our own beauty.

7. We are hypersexualized and objectified, but never seen as human beings deserving of love.

8. And yet, despite all this… We love what being a Black girls means.

9. We can uplift and affirm ourselves.

10. #HowItFeelsToBeABlackGirl? “Good as hell…”

#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.

Photo: Shutterstock

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.

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