For Black Girls Only—An Open Letter By A Black Woman, For Black Women

We as black women are told that we are undesirable from the day we were born. Our kinky hair gets straightened via hot comb or as soon as we’re old enough to get our first relaxer. Our black features only look good if there on someone else, usually non-black. How could the nation admire Angelina Jolie or J-Lo without acknowledging black women first?

Credit: Henriette Otervik

Caption: Blackfishing: The act of a non-black person making him or herself look ethnically ambiguous to look black.

This erasure of blackness is an epidemic. Young black girls are internalizing beauty standards that are a combination of eurocentric and afrocentric features. What I mean by this is black girls only think they’re valid if they look like someone else. Our current beauty trends today reflect the theft of black culture. Girls of any race can pick and choose what they want from black women, achieving it through various procedures of lip fillers and heavy self-tanning and then simultaneously reap the benefits of white privilege and racial ambiguity. 

Last winter, when I was doing homework in the study room in my dorm building, I overheard two white girls gush over how cute their babies would be if they married a black man because they’ve “never seen a ugly mixed kid.” I felt sick to my stomach. Did they not know that they would still be raising a black child with “difficult” hair? Did they not know that their child would have to face a world of discrimination that they were not accustomed to? Did they not know that a routine traffic stop for them would be a matter of life or death if confronted by a police officer? What they didn’t know is that I, only sitting 5 feet away from them, tried to hide my blackness, constantly berating my ancestors for not being mixed or born something else so I can be seen as desirable. 

Credit: atomstartup/Teepublic

In an anti-black world, one seeks acceptance from their peers and counterparts, but unfortunately, black men have been poisoned with colorism and internalized racism. Despite being a product of two black parents, I always thought black men didn’t like black women unless they were biracial. All the black men in my family are dating or engaged to white women. I think it’s saying something when black men turn their backs on black women once they start making a few bucks. Looking back to OJ Simpson proudly claiming “I’m not black, I’m OJ!” or Kodak Black rapping “Where them yellow bones? I don’t want no Black bitch. I’m already Black. Don’t need no Black bitch,” it’s apparent that some black men don’t respect black women. They flock to other women: White, Asian, Latina-- anything but African. To them, it’s an upgrade, ignoring the ironic fact that their own mothers, grandmothers, aunties, and sisters are black too. As Malcom X said, “The most disrespected woman in American is the black woman.”

So, I’m writing this piece for black women and black women only. I’m writing this for those with 4 type hair, big noses and lips, and skin as dark as fawns. I’m writing this for black women with fat asses or no asses at all, thick or as slim as grass stalks. It makes you no less of a black woman. Black is black.