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  • Writer's pictureAshley Gray

10 Things I think... Policing Black Girl’s bodies & sexuality

Let Black Girls be Girls

So… we all saw the video of Malia dropping it like only the daughter of the first Black President can. And I say “twerk baby twerk”. Though this may make you laugh a little (I mean I think I’m funny) I hope to talk about the way that we police Black girls that hopefully grow up to be Black women…

1. “Fast” Listen if you’ve been around some aunties long enough, one of them is likely to categorize somebody as “fast”. For those of you who may not know this colloquialism, it means some thing like… prematurely interested in sexual things or in my opinion- nothing at all. Little Black girls are called fast for mirroring their experience of womanhood. 

2. Boobs… listen… every part of my life told me that boobs were a qualifier for womanhood. I wanted them, pray for them, hoisted them, stuffed to enhance them etc. Boobs were it! But we make little girls feel bad for their excitement about breasts all the while separating ourselves from them with the fat pockets.

3. Growing up my favorite book was “Are you there God, it’s me Margaret” by Judy Blume. This book was about a pre-teen anxiously awaiting womanhood and finding herself. She did the “we must increase our bust” chant & dance often and I did too. Because boobs. I mean I didn’t get boobs until 22, but when they finally came I thought I was apart of an exclusive club.

4. Rossie says it best when she says, “Carefree Black girls scare us.” When we see assertive, in touch with their bodies we run for the hills.

5. “Pet names”… let’s be honest for a second… how many ppl growing up actually called their vagina a vagina? Nope. And I’m not coming for the choices of Black parents who were looking at this as a way of teaching manners or just had good intentions. But names like, “no-no spot”, “woo-woo”, “pocketbook”, and one friend told me it was called “the funky monkey”… I have to admit I’m stuck at the “funky monkey” one. Moving right along… there was nothing empowering about the names a lot of us learned. 

6. Dancing videos. My sisters and I watched a video of this little girl ABSOLUTELY GETTING IT! She was dancing with 2 grown men in a choreographed number. And when I say she was making them her background… Like baby was getting it. The comments under the picture were rather concerning. “I bet she can’t even read though.” “Why would you let her dance like that?” “When she grows up to be a…” Listen, girls are able to dance and read and be complex, brilliant folk. My sister said something powerful, “Ppl don’t know what to do with talented kids.”

7. My own respectability. Back in my college days I was very critical of girls/women exploring their sexuality. The girls who were on campus talking about safe sex and birth control… I was SUPER CRITICAL of them. Called them hoes. My respectability turned on it’s head when I needed to talk to these girls about that same birth control. 

8. Doesn’t it say something if kids are in a rush to get grown? Like, think about it. Don’t we silence children and then let them know that there are only certain freedoms that come with adulthood? Listen, I don’t have kids yet, but this thought process always crosses my mind. I want free kids, but am I prepared for their freedom? Ya know?

9. The sex convo… if you had one. But know that even if you didn’t verbally have one- you had one. Silence is a sound actually. How many folks have “gendered” conversations about sex? (acknowledging that in most cases this was from a binary perspective.)

10. I hope to raise a free Black girl one day. Hope to teach her cool things. Hope to challenge her to think critically and explore what she needs to. I hope not to let my respectability and embarrassment raise my kids. I hope she’s dope. And I hope she loves herself- all of herself. I hope she’s free. This is Mya who has been doing squats to get like her momma. You rock Black girl!

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