I pride myself on being educated, well read, and worldly. I feel like I can hold my own in conversations about politics, race relations, books, etc. I mean, my idea of a good time consists of hitting The Strand and going to the MET. However, I also very much enjoy listening to Future, watching Love & Hip Hop, and I completely celebrated when I found out Beyonce was pregnant with twins. When Juvenile tell’s me to do it for the 99′ and 2000’s, I do not hesitate. I’ve always had a delicate and essential balance in my life that is a major part of who I am.
But, the problem is that in black culture, we draw this line in the sand when it comes to how we are supposed to be. On the side of success are these black women that are straight laced, no nonsense, and totally out of touch. Outside of that are women that are assumed to be uneducated, ignorant, and sleep to what’s going on in the world. The scale that we create in black womanhood with ratchet on one end and bougie on the other is more harmful than any other constraints we can put on ourselves.
I am not ignorant to the benefits and necessity of this. Black women are automatically put into a category based on our race, solely. There are countless cases where black women have been discriminated against for doing what their white counterparts get away with. So, creating this scale that acts as a definitive way to separate ourselves from the negative stereotypes that holds us back makes sense. It’s a defense mechanism, no matter how flawed.
But, here’s the thing: enough is enough. At some point, we need to let go of this pervasive idea that black women are a one dimensional group that can only fit into a one singular space at a time. Shit, white women are given the space to be who they want, free of societal consequences.
The Commitment Project is a movement that I’ve been working on since the start of Ask a Black Chick. It is a promise for black women to black women that we will no longer trap ourselves and others in these singular isolating stereotypes. I created these shirts that express this idea by replacing words like bougie, ratchet, ghetto, etc with words that actually represent black womanhood like artsy, educated, and carefree. I am college educated and will argue you down about Housewives of Atlanta. I am allowed to do both and refuse to allow harmful words continue to separate our multifaceted culture.
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