Afropunk introduced me to the carefree Black girl—she, like me, rejects the idea that being Black means engaging in a constant social and cultural struggle to be accepted. She has fun, is a little reckless and defines herself not by considering what others think it means to be Black but by focusing on what makes her smile. I am happy that Black girls today might feel less alienated culturally because they have these images of natural, happy Black women to reference. But I’m also worried that the emphasis on being carefree just gives us another set of rules to follow. The notion of the carefree Black girl as the modern, best version of Blackness can be alienating to anyone who wants to wear her hair straight or appear more mainstream. It could have the same effect on girls now that “normal” Blackness had on me when I was growing up.
My hope is that the carefree Black girl concept works in tandem with other notions of Blackness. It’s possible that at 37, I’m just too old for the idea of the carefree Black girl to take root, as I’ve already found a way to be a confident weirdo. What I want more than anything is for Black girls to have balance, to feel accepted at every stage across the spectrum of their lives. I want to float back to my younger self, grab her paint-stained hands in mine and tell her that she’s already enough.
—Danielle Henderson, “Exploring Blackness and Where I Fit In”
(via the dopest ethiopienne)