As a young, Black girl in America, there is a long list of things you are supposed to know and learn about to secure your “Black card.” Some things you would expect to be taught to you by someone else, but you’ll actually be left to figure it out on your own. Then you’ll reach a point in your adulthood when you’ll say to yourself, “Oh my God, why didn’t I know I should be sleeping on a satin pillowcase?” You’ll feel like someone failed you during your upbringing. You may even feel slightly excluded from the other black women you encounter on a daily basis. For example, I got to my HBCU and felt like almost everyone around me knew how to cornrow their own hair, and there I was, only knowing how to put my hair into buns and ponytails. It’s okay if you’ve been in a similar situation, don’t worry and just remember you can grow from it, especially with my help! I’m here to give you ten important things that every Black girl should know as she grows into a young woman.
- Figure out what hair product companies are actually Black owned and which ones are not
Many of the hair product companies that are heavily advertised in our local stores and beauty supply stores are NOT BLACK OWNED! Just because the hair product says, “this product is great for curly, thick hair,” does not always mean it has the proper ingredients to support our Black, curly, thick hair! Some of these hair companies don’t truly know what we should be putting in our hair as black women. They just mix together a whole bunch of chemicals, and say “Yup, that should work!” Then months later, you’re trying to figure out why your hair feels drier than normal and why your curl pattern has changed. Research these hair companies and pay attention to which ones are knowledgeable about the hair types they’re selling to.
- Consider HBCUs in your college options
Going to an HBCU is such an amazing experience that you will not find anywhere else. You are surrounded by people just like you, but you also get introduced to other cultures and settings you may have never experienced before. While studying at an HBCU, you can really blossom and grow into the woman you always saw yourself to be, without feeling the judgement or being misunderstood constantly by white people. The women you will be around everyday will be just like you and understand your everyday struggles, something you’re just not guaranteed to find while at a PWI. Consider an HBCU and take the time to tour one (or a few). It may be even better than you anticipate!
- Making time to watch movies and shows that depict Black girls and women in a positive light
Growing up, I can’t tell you how much it meant to my mother that a Black Disney princess came out. She wanted me to have everything from The Princess and The Frog collection. Tiana’s storyline was amazing and I loved that movie with all my heart. Later, I started to see how critical it is for young Black girls to see these kinds of movies. When Hidden Figures came to theaters, I was so excited to see a movie like that, despite having no interest in science and math. It was great to see three strong Black actresses in such positive, progressive roles. It shows you that Black women can be whatever they aspire to be in life. It helps you feel more confident about what your future will look like, and reminds you not to let anyone underestimate your ability to do what you set your mind to just because of your skin color.
- Educate yourself on why satin bonnets and pillowcases are good for our hair
As a Black girl in America, you will hear many women mention that their bonnet is satin, they sleep on a satin pillowcase, they use satin scrunchies, etc. This is because satin will help your hair retain its moisture and reduce the chances of breakage. Cotton and polyester will do the absolute opposite. It will snag on your hair and ruin your fresh hairstyle, especially if it’s a silk press. Satin will help preserve your hairstyle because of how silky and slippery it is. So if you want to keep your hair looking fresh and cute, invest in that satin bonnet and pillowcase!
- Colorism is alive and real
Colorism is defined as “prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic or racial group.” It’s very present in the news, social media, TV shows and movies, people’s dating lives, official workspaces, etc. Colorism is like being told that you are worth less than someone else because you’re either lighter or darker skinned. It’s usually more common with darker skin tones, but lighter skin tones do suffer from colorism as well! Colorism can be something as simple as all Black TV shows casting only light skinned people with little to no representation of darker skin tones in the show. If someone tries to be colorist against you, stand your ground and tell them you love yourself no matter what shade of brown you are! If they can’t accept that, then remove yourself from the situation and remove them from your life.
- Teach yourself how to cornrow your own hair
I know this one sounds silly, but girl, this is important! Cornrows have been in the African American community dating back to slavery. Cornrows are so good for our hair and can really help promote hair growth with a few added steps. You can do more effective protective hairstyles on yourself if you know how to cornrow your hair. If you really want to, you can start with cornrows, and then teach yourself other braiding techniques and have a side hustle! There are countless benefits to being able to cornrow hair.
- Listen to music not only by Black women but about Black women
There are so many great Black female singers about there, but try to look for some of their songs that tell stories about Black women or things relating to our everyday dilemmas. Those types of songs always feel so empowering, and only you and women who look like you can relate. It’s not just for all women and that’s a special feeling right there.
Here’s some good songs to give you a little head start:
– BROWN SKIN GIRL by Beyoncé, SAINt JHN, and Wizkid
– Don’t Touch My Hair by Solange
– Shea Butter Baby by Ari Lennox and J.Cole
– Feeling Myself by Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé
– Womanifesto by Jill Scott
- Find Black owned skincare brands
There are so many overlooked and under advertised Black owned skincare brands. These brands are much healthier for our skin than the products pushed out by big skincare brands and different celebrities’ skincare lines. They often have more natural and pure ingredients than the ones we commonly see in stores. Find some Black owned skincare brands, put money in their pockets, and watch your skin flourish!
- It’s okay to say no and to speak up
This one is crucial to remember and can help prevent you from being in extremely uncomfortable situations. If you are not ok with something or something does not feel appropriate to you, don’t be afraid to take a deep breath and say no. In some circumstances, you’ll have to speak up to an authoritative figure! So many Black women have suffered from some traumatic situations because no one told them it was ok to say no when they were growing up. No one taught them that saying no was better than carrying emotional damage for a lifetime. If someone asks to touch your hair, it’s a hundred percent okay to tell them no. If someone is pressuring you to do something you don’t want to do, you can say no. You will not be any less of a woman or lose cool points for saying no. It’s your life and you can control it, so don’t let anyone take that power from you.
- Black Girl Magic is real
The power of Black Girl Magic is real. Just look at all the top R&B singers! The majority of them are Black women, just like you. Black women have made history in the medical field, political world, the STEM field, and especially in the world of entrepreneurship. Some of the most influential mayors and senators here in the United States are Black women. Our Forever First Lady Michelle Obama was just a regular girl from the southside of Chicago, and she went on to get two degrees from two different Ivy League schools. She helped Obama get through two difficult presidential terms, wrote a book and filmed a movie to go along with it. She did all of this while raising her two beautiful daughters. And now look, our current Vice President of the United States is a Black woman who attended an HBCU. Once you put your mind to it, you are 100 percent capable of getting the job done. And once you do, you will be another example of just how real Black Girl Magic is.