Tell Her She is Beautiful

I really liked watching the clip with Flo Kennedy. Not only did I like how she handled the chatty white woman who wouldn’t let her speak, but I loved her outlook on life; she truly and fiercely loved herself.  She attributes this love of herself to her parents telling her that she was special. It is my belief that every child should be made to feel special. In our society, often we criticize children so young and do not praise them. We make too many deposits and not enough withdraws into their bank of self-love so they start out life in the negative.

Even in June Jordan’s poem, you can see the effect of being socialized to fit a mold has. In Poem about My Rights, she writes “it was my father saying I was wrong saying that/ I should have been a boy because he wanted one/ a boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and/ that I should have had straighter hair and that/ I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should/ just be one a boy and before that/ it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for/ my nose and braces for my teeth  and telling me/ to let the books loose to let them loose” These are messages that little black girls are being taught and have to tussle with. Being made to feel like that you are wrong, who you are is wrong, your existence is wrong. Now imagine if instead of being told everything that was wrong, she was told everything that was right about her. Hearing “You are beautiful.” How much easier it would be if black women did not have to start from scratch to teach ourselves to love ourselves.

This is why representation is important. Because as much as our parents and family can make us feel special and reinforce our confidence, there is a world that still perpetuates problematic portrayals of black women or no story for black women at all. Seeing Viola Davis winning the Emmy for leading actress in a television drama was spectacular. In her acceptance speech, Viola makes the lack opportunity for women of color evident. She makes the statement, “The only thing that separates women of color from anybody else is opportunity” However, one irrelevant soap opera actress Nancy Lee Grahn tried (unsuccessfully) to come for Viola. Nancy wrote “Im a fucking actress for 40 yrs. None of us get the opportunity we deserve. Emmys not a venue 4 racial opportunity.” And then went on to dig herself into deeper a hole by saying, “i heard harriet yTubman and I thought Its a fucking emmy for gods sake. She wasnt digging thru a tunnel.” Then turns right around an congratulated a white woman for making a comment about lack of equality for women in the industry. I call BULLSHIT. I am tired of the whitesplaining. She came and told black women that they do not experience discrimination because their race but was totally fine when comments about gender were made. Stop. Stop it right now. Stay in your lane. Comments like this try to keep white privilege in place by shunning the idea that there is problem with the way things are. If you aren’t familiar with the black twitter community, I recommend that you do. Black twitter came for Nancy with a force, and she got dragged through the mud with her nonsense. She ended up writing an apology, but only God knows whether she meant it or not.


One thought on “Tell Her She is Beautiful

  1. I enjoyed your post and at the end you had me laughing so hard I nearly wet myself :-)! General Hospital two-bit actress is a great example of “white fragility.” If you don’t know of it there is a great article about it: Robin DiAngelo (2011). “White Fragility.” International Journal of Critical Pedagogy: Vol 3.3, 54-70. If you get a chance, could you read it and let me know if you think it would be valuable for the whole class to read? If you have trouble accessing it, let me know and I will give you a copy.


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