The Average Black Girl: Sick and tired of the stereotyping

Posted: February 3, 2015 in Anti-stereotyping/racism/xenophobia, Gender and Women's Rights, Postcolonialism/Postcolonial literature, [Social] Media
Tags: , ,

Average black girl

I was once asked by a reader of my blog about what my stance is in regards to making negative stereotypes positive; this was my answer:

To be perfectly honest with you, I have a hard time thinking of a stereotype that can be made positive. There might be some that are not as harmful as others, but still are quite negative because in their nature, stereotypes are not true depictions of people but imagined ones. And personally, I don’t know of any stereotype that truly characterizes all people of that stereotyped group, whether positive or negative, because in the end, people are individuals entitled to their own opinions, beliefs and practices. For instance, some people think I’m a musician or singer because of my hair. Now, that’s not such a bad thought, and I do enjoy playing the guitar and singing… but if someone concludes that I am something that I am not just by looking at my hair, that also implies that they can’t or are not interested in seeing me as who I really am. This issue of agency or lack of is a detrimental issue among those who come from postcolonial countries, those who have definitely been negatively affected by stereotyping as it often manifests to racism and xenophobia.

If asked this question again today, I would answer the same but thanks to Ernestine Johnson, I know how using art, such as spoken word, can be used to pronounce and reverse stereotypes by basically owning the stereotype.  “I’m not the average black girl… I can only aspire to me.”

The power of her poem is just mind boggling, and judging by the comments, shares and “likes” I received after posting the video on my Facebook wall, this power was felt beyond national, racial, ethnic, religious and gender boundaries. The video below is a MUST SEE!!

  1. Ariam Alula says:

    Thanks for posting. I’ve noticed this video circulate on social channels for some time now and finally decided to hit play. A lot of what was said mirrored comments that I have (and continuously) receive, however, I’ve noticed and am tired of the habit of Black women that highlight the same old stereotypes projected to us. The long hair, accented English, and interests in topics unconventional to many Blacks (i.e. anime, sci-fi, engineer, etc). I would have rather watched another minority go further and discuss how the shock of not fitting into a box has or hasn’t given her access to life’s pleasantries. For example, I travel solo. That isn’t a Black nor White thing to do, I guess, but there’s a dearth of travel blogs created by and for women compared to male counterparts. Women aren’t given the same attention and respect as men in this category because independence was (and still) perceived as a man’s desire. As a young Black woman traveler, I find that I’m even lower on the pole trailing behind White men, White women, Black men, and then Black women. Nobody would think to seek out my writings unless I throw it on their face, but I am motivated and proud to document those experiences because they offer perspective to anybody young and looking to travel. Internet freedom and travel have given me access to a very green world. So I chose to focus on the lessons and not about the stereotypes associated with traveling while young and Black. Make sense?

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