Part 2: Love Letters to All the Black Girls I Grew Up With

**If you missed out on Part 1, you can take a look HERE

Part 2: We Roll Deep


Black girl factory: no two the same.

Fat black girls with strong thighs and thick heels. Mixed, black girls with uncertain smiles and kinky hair. Green-haired black girls with glittery overalls and artistic souls. Athletic black girls with Adidas slides and a smirk. Dark, shining, dark skinned girls, glasses-clad bookworm girls, hand on hip, “look at me” girls, “i don’t like to be touched- get over it” girls. Blackity black black black black girls in every shape, size and curl pattern under the sun. Black girl, we love you.Black girl, I love you. This is my love letter to all the black girls I knew growing up, and it’s already too short.

Profile 3: Let’s Play Pretend; You Be Becky, I’ll Be Lynn

I would drape a yellow towel over my head, wrench it into a tight twist, and flip it over the front of my shoulder, petting it like I was an anxious rock-swept Ariel. I would whip it in the wind and it would move like I told it to….unlike my own kinky hair; she-who-would-not-be-tamed. I would look in the mirror and do a pageant wave or accept an Oscar with the unplugged flat iron on the bathroom sink and everyone would clap, clap, clap for my yellow yellow hair.

“TIARAAAAA- hurry up, we need to practice.”

Quickly drop the towel and run to the rehearsal room where the girls are waiting, S Club 7 playing lightly in the background.

“Let’s play pretend. Let’s all choose names.

You be Becky, I’ll be Holly, you be Nina, I’ll be Lynn!!”

We line up and reenact our opening montage. Black girls in the car (the oldest, the designated driver)- the rest of us swinging our arms outside the sunroof, young and wild and free. Black girls taking over Spain just like the Cheetah Girls. I meet a guy named Javier who likes my style so he breaks into a dance number and woos me on the streets while I walk away pretending not to care, hand on hip, nose upturned. Black girls dancing on stage at Madison Square Garden to the applause of millions of fans across the world; “well dahhhling of course you may have an autograph- chahhmed, I’m sure.”

You were the first crew I knew. Family. From you, I learned the power of pretend- of dreaming myself into existence. For the longest time that would be my downfall as I dreamed, fingers crossed, for yellow yellow soft wavy bouncy wind blown hair- and then it would turn into my greatest strength.

Our pretend gave me the gift of vision- to dream myself out of my own circumstances, to try on all the different women I longed to grow into and become.

Profile 4: Teach me how to twerk- teach me, teach me how to twerk…and other things I was too embarrassed to ask for but would have highly benefited from

Saturday night Black girls,  you called me an Oreo almost everyday for one semester. You shared your noodles with me when we were broke and the caf was closed on Friday nights. You invited me in like I was family from the moment that you met me. You made fun of my love for books, but you always asked what I was reading, peering over the top of my perched novel and saying “What you reading? What you doiiiiinnnn? Let’s dooo something.”

I remember you because you took me to the best damn party I ever went to; this-all-black-everything, reggaeton dance romp that quickly turned into a foam party that quickly turned into a McDonald’s run where we sat, spent, in the car listening to music, my head on your shoulder, everyone groaning for bed.

You tried to teach me how to twerk multiple times.

Hands on knees and bounce- stop being so stiff- with all THAT you shouldn’t have this problem.

I could never quite let go enough to catch up. I would do a slight bounce and then roll my eyes. “This is soooo dumb. Do you think Oprah feels like she has to know how to twerk? No.”

“Oh here she goes again with this Oprah nonsense!”

You showed me belonging can exist in a crew of black girls even if we’re different; even if we’re so damn different that we struggle to see ourselves in each other. But it’s funny how all these years later, I can fully see myself in you and you in me. Loud, boisterous, funny, brave, black girl, here.


Tune in for Part 3 tomorrow!


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