We met up and sat at the bar, sharing a basket of fries.
He said, “I know that there are still race issues, you know, but things have gotten significantly better now. I think, right now, it’s mostly just about women’s issues. What women have to go through.”
I stopped thinking of myself as a “girl” around 12 years old. Boys who began to act on heteronormative performances showed interest in “girls”, and I was not one of them. I wasn’t blessed to be one of the boys, however. No, that space was too special for me. It was the cool space, the powerful space. No, I was boy space adjacent. They would talk about girls they liked, girls they hoped to find one day, and none of them looked like me. So I played my part as the funny, loud, sassy black girl. Not girl. Black girl.
And anyone that tries to tell you there is no difference between black girl and “girl”, go tell that person you want to show them a beautiful woman on Instagram, and watch how quickly their eyes open up in surprise when the woman is black.
So now I’m 20 years old trying to define and become my own version of “girl”. It starts with black and ends with woman. I am brown skin, wooly hair, full lips. I’m a black woman.
And in a matter of seconds he dismissed all of that.
I didn’t even bring up a race or sex or gender issue. He told a black woman that race shouldn’t be a concern. Ignoring the numerous black victims of white police brutality, cases that are currently being protested against in this very city, he told a black woman not to worry about race.
I’m used to not being seen as woman, but no one has ever seen me as not black. Not that black, maybe, but black nonetheless. I didn’t like the feeling, being woman without being black. Because I am a black woman, and if I’m not black first then I don’t exist at all.
I said, “There has been progress, I can see that, but I’m also a black woman, so I can see the other side of that progress – twice over.”