I’m a Black mom raising both a little Black girl and a little Black boy. I’ll spare you the chatter about how challenging it is raising children of color with all of the racial issues happening in the United States at the moment. You don’t have to be Black to understand: It’s difficult to raise children of all backgrounds these days.
But let me tell you, it sucks growing up being a little girl who doesn’t regularly see gymnasts, ballerinas, swimmers and violinists who look—even remotely, even once in awhile— like you.
“But ohmigosh, why does that matter?”
It DOES matter.
My little girl needs to see Black ballerinas so that she can believe they exist. Because let me tell you, growing up, I didn’t know they existed.
My little girl needs to see Black ballerinas so that she can believe they exist. Because let me tell you, growing up, I didn’t know they existed. I remember taking ballet as a 7-year-old and being the only Black girl in class. It didn’t bother me then. All I cared about was doing ballet. I also took karate and was the only Black girl in my class. I didn’t even know that people who looked like me took up martial arts. Here we are in this big world and I thought I was the only Black girl who did ballet and karate.
What’s wrong with this picture?
It’s for reasons like this why I love the Brown Girls Do Ballet mission. It’s also the same reason why I’m in Black Girls Run and why I support social groups that help society realize that, hey, we Black people swim and, you know, do yoga, too! Everyone wants to feel like they belong in the things that they do and, often times, that means the desire to see people who also look like you.
It’s not about exclusion.
Whenever I make noise about how I support pro-Black missions, many people assume that I’m purposely leaving out other groups. This isn’t the case. What many people fail to realize is that these groups exist because others felt dismissed. It isn’t about exclusion, but it’s about helping another group feel accepted.
Truthfully, I think it's sad these groups have to exist, but I'm also so incredibly grateful that we live in our world where there are support groups and missions for children who want to do things that are outside what is expected of them.
Let's not ignore the fact that my brown child knows that she's the only brown child. She notices it.
Being the only Black girl EVERYWHERE gets old.
It's 2016, and I find it irritating that my child, like me, has to stick out like a sore thumb.
(Oh hereeeee, we go. I hear someone saying, "It isn't always about race.")
It's true, it's not always about race. But it's often enough about race that I'm going to keep talking about it. Let's not ignore the fact that my brown child knows that she's the only brown child. She notices it. Thankfully, it doesn't bother her, but she questions why there aren't other girls that look like her. The other little girls know she's different, and I'd love for her to do the things that she wants to do without her race being an issue. I want her to feel comfortable and happy with what's she's doing, and sometimes that means realizing that hey, "I know that you think you're alone in this, but guess what? You're not! Other little girls that look like you do the same thing."
Trust me when I say that it feels good to know you aren't alone.
So until no one is alone, I say cheers! Cheers to social organizations and groups that are providing a community and outlet for girls that look like mine to shine.
Photograph by: BNJ photography