AN ODE TO THE WOULD-BE CAREFREE BLACK GIRL IN ALL OF US
April 12, 2019
I get mad emotional on the rare occasion that we are graced with Blue Ivy’s presence and she so much as blinks.
And it’s weird, because I don’t know her, never met her, and there is no relation whatsoever. So why the waterworks? Why is it that I have such a visceral reaction to another small human being? Well, let me explain.
This past Sunday, I talked about trauma, or rather my anger when it comes to trauma. Trauma surrounding my weight. My skin. My hair. Even my ability to write. The main concern with it is how it continuously triggers my depression and PTSD and how much further (and happier) in life I would be if I didn’t have to deal with it. The hypotheticals of how far I could be in life especially got to me because life is barely promised to you when you are a Black girl. So having to deal with trauma on top of that would leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth.
Now, in the midst of my existential crisis about my emotional and mental instability, my Lord and Savior Beyoncé Knowles-Carter dropped the trailer for her upcoming Netflix documentary, Homecoming—which chronicles everything that lead up to that legendary Coachella performance. And within that trailer, I got to see Blue do her thing, even leading her own mother in a dance number.
Waterworks kicked in again and I was slightly embarrassed. Why was I so deeply invested in her existence and happiness?
Well, if you were paying attention when Blue was growing up, then you’ll remember the criticism young Blue garnered for a. her “unruly” hair and b. the audacity of her not coming out of her mother’s womb with the facial features of somebody’s biracial child called Jayden.
Both periods of time were pretty shameful and weird to witness, to say the least. Thousands and thousands of posts flooded the internet, telling Beyoncè and Jay to “comb that baby’s hair” or “lay her edges down”, or “perm it”. And to make matters worse, upon her birth, many were disturbed to find that Blue didn’t have what one might call “mixed child traits”, like a thinner nose; looser, curlier hair (somewhere between 3a – 3c), and possibly colored eyes that are not brown.
Of course, this was bewildering for me to witness because both Beyoncé and Jay Z are very Blackity Black (even though society loves to attempt to whitewash the former—even through something as nonsensical as a wax figure), so that expectation was unrealistic to begin with. This generally exposed the disturbing obsession our own community has with fetishizing light-skinned children and multiracial children to the point of audibly verbalizing all their demented attempts to build-a-mixed-kid.
But that truly was not the worst part. The worst part was watching grown, fellow Black women drag Blue, a child, for her “nappy hair” and say how unbecoming it was for her and how poorly it reflected on Beyoncè (to this day. I am convinced this is the reason we barely see Sir and Rumi). It was a painful time and I legitimately lost at least three friends over this because I refused to let something so hateful and anti-Black slide. Because what these women refused to admit then (and probably now) is that they were projecting all of their insecurities and inadequacies about their hair and appearance on a child. And using her as a proxy and punching bag for their trauma.
And it bothered them that she was hypothetically being taught to love all aspects of herself (including her hair and face) without having to go through the wringer of hair breakage, perm burns, bad straightening jobs, bad roller jobs, and so much more.
It angered them that this little girl seemingly had parents and a support system who loved her fully and resoundingly, and thus were able to shield her from most of the bullshit of the world and instill in her a strong sense of self (and love) to the point of being unbothered.
Which is why it was surreal to watch these same people go from maligning her hair to gaping at her luscious fro and confident pose in the “Formation” video. Or calling her “nappy hair” pretty now that there were paparazzi photos showing it had grown in length. Or being confused as to why her parents would humor her witty objection to them clapping too much at the Grammys. Or being bewildered that her parents would allow her to be her own person (with her own autonomy) and humorously participate at an art auction. Or the amazement at her being a central figure in “Family Feud” and being discussed as a future president and “founding mother”. Or still being shocked that THE Beyoncé would be taking dancing lessons from her kid.
Of course, there should be no shock and awe. Treating a kid like Blue with respect and autonomy, and refusing to treat a little Black girl like her as property — as most parents do — should not be a novel concept. But it is.
It shouldn’t be, but it is.
That’s why I get emotional every time she comes across my timeline. And that’s why I burst into tears when witnessing her in that Netflix trailer. Because the confident, effervescent, brilliant, and most importantly, care-free Blue Ivy is what is possible for all Black girls (big or small) when you are raised by a community of people who love and respect you.
Because when that happens, anything is possible for a little Black girl, including never seeing a ceiling in her whole life.
CLARKISHA CLAPS BACK is a weekly column that humorously and honestly claps back at the world around writer Clarkisha Kent, from culture, politics, sexuality, gender and her personal life.