An excerpt from my first book, Roadtripping the Dream.
Because we’re unique, we’re dedicated, and we are openly affectionate. We can be on the same level as guys or girls because of life experience. We are required to be tougher–only to survive–but sometimes this makes us look callous, which is furthest from the truth. We have been misunderstood for far too long, so I strive to advise you here.
We are the kinds of girls who wish on stars, rock babies to sleep, sing, stomp, cry, dance beneath the moon, encourage you, run races down dusty, country alleys, and listen all night when life has not been too kind. We are earthy and divine and have a distinctive rapport with life itself. We are cut from a different cloth because of a solid link to our past, but our warrior spirit is inherently directed for the good of mankind. However, if one of us is courted by an extreme, it is because our souls have been hurt in a way that we are still trying to find out how to get away from the pain. We may or may not succeed, but that is irrelevant. We do not fail in trying—it is simply not in our nature.
We may not forget, but we are most likely to forgive—unless an injury is so reprehensible as to make us turn our backs on ever thinking about it again. We are devoted to family as if veteran soldiers and will rise to ensure that our best is given. With a childlike wonder, we commit ourselves fully to our emotions, but it is often this honesty and openness that is exploited by self-serving individuals. We naturally tend to try to see the best in you and want the best for you. If you turn out to be selfish and cruel, we ignore you altogether. We realize that life must go on, because of our proximity to it, and tend not to waste time around people who are emotionally draining. We are the underdog and the comeback kid. We know how to surf the edges of life–acquiring a particular type of tactile sensitivity because of it—much like a cat. We listen to the tone of your voice, the words that you say, and read the language of your body like a book. And if the story you are telling isn’t one that is pleasant to read, we will decide to put you back on the shelf and walk on.
We don’t forget you. However, it is up to you to make that favorably lasting impression on us. Please understand that we will not beg you for anything since we’ve learned from an early age that begging is a dead-end road. We make things happen and are true fireworks in the female sky. In moments of pure joy, we live in the moment, and in times of immense sadness, we feel that too—to the core. We’ve been here for a long time, and have been called many things–some honorable and some scathing—but no matter, we remain. We have been Colored, Negro, Black, and African American—depending on what decade we found ourselves in. No matter if you call us by our names or not, we remain.
Today I write this because it needs to be written—without malice, hate, indifference, arrogance, or spite. I write this because, for 39 years, I have bit of experience being in this skin. I write this because I want to try to convey a certain perspective that is largely ignored. I want to answer the age old question with a definitive answer. When you ask, “Why colored girls,” I say to you, “Just because we are, and that is enough.” When you see us skipping rope on our 50th birthday as if we are 20, you know why. Or when you see us out with our friends of all shades, and cultures, and persuasions, you will understand why. It is just that simple to be, to dance, to love, to write, to cook, to dress up, celebrate and to be what you have wanted to be. Be it. Do it. Want it. And if you are not there yet, fake it until you make it because you will in some capacity. Have fun on the journey, and be comfortable in your own skin. It is what we do all day, every day. It is the “something” that colored girls just naturally possess and can be had by every woman.
I am eternally grateful for all the colored girls who are in my life–both here and in spirit. They are the ones whose love radiates all around me, and keeps me grounded. I am grateful for learning at the feet of my grandmothers, and great-grandmothers through the magic of storytelling. I am grateful for the music that filled our homes, the gatherings, and for learning how to keep on keeping on when things get tough. I am grateful for the pioneers and the settlers from our cultures that continue to make their mark on the world. I am grateful for the poets, musicians, and artists that fearlessly communicate our stories. I am grateful for our ability to orchestrate a good home-going and celebrate our cherished ones with a positive and respectful sendoff. And I am grateful for the ability to sit down with many, and thoroughly speak on more than superficiality.
So, as another day comes to an end, we think about you, and us, and all, and them, and say a quick prayer to cover everything. We may observe the sunset, stay up for the moon, and wish on a couple more stars. But we live, love and fail to practice because we are real, and don’t know how to be anything but. We may not have it all together, but together we certainly have it all. We’ve been a part of this “together” for centuries. We will be a part of this “together” for many years to come. So you ask, “Why colored girls?” And I say, “Because, you must get to know us.”