A Black Girl’s Thoughts
Dear younger self,
I remember you as clear as day. You had short twists, wearing your school uniform, and you would be playing soccer or sitting in the library during recess. You would wear your hair down, but Dad said to pack it up so people could see your face, but your head was always in some book, so it didn’t really matter anyway. I remember the feeling of childhood like it was yesterday, and yet it’s so far away. The feeling after leaving a movie theater, going on rides at the theme park, going on school field trips and getting lunchables. I cherish the small pockets of blissfulness in those moments so much, and I wish I could transport myself back to that simplicity.
Thursday, March 31, was the first federally recognized Transgender Day of Visibility — a day made to recognize and support transgender persons in the US and globally. Visibility requires both awareness and a reorientation in how we regard transsexuality and trans individuals. When discussing Black womanhood, there is a common erasure that others and I must learn to better recognize: the invisibility of Black trans women within our conversations and our understandings of Black womanhood.
Transmisogynoir, coined by a womanist writer known as Trudy, describes the compounded structures of anti-Blackness, cissexism, and misogynoir that oppress Black trans women and femmes. Misogynoir, coined by the queer Black feminist Moya Bailey, is used to illustrate the combined oppression that Black cisgender women experience through anti-Blackness and misogyny.
In witnessing a rise of anti-Asian violence due to the pandemic, I have found it difficult to process how quickly we have broken our promise to protect vulnerable communities before their lives are taken. Asian Americans have been discussing the ongoing violence, hatred, and racially motivated attacks they have experienced since the pandemic’s onset, yet the cycle of death creating “progress” happens once again.
On March 16, a series of mass shootings took place at three spas and massage parlors located in Atlanta, Ga. Eight were killed, two were wounded, and of the eight, six of them were Asian women.
There is a trend on Tik Tok where people present their bodies in an “ideal” manner, and then seconds later relax their bodies to demonstrate that it is natural to have rolls and folds and “imperfections.” One of the videos I landed on was Lizzo’s rendition, where for the entire video her body remains the same. This video made me realize that the trend, which I’d originally thought was empowering women, was falsely re-defining what it means to be fat and erasing the real stories of fat women who we need to hear and support.
To preface this article, I must state my positionality within this structure: My body is seen as “ideal” in the sense that my physical body, in both its appearance and function, has been privileged in the construction of all the spaces we occupy. Though I have followed, advocated for, and supported body positivity across time, it was not until quarantine that I realized that there was a problem in how I and others orient ourselves to the body positivity movement and fatphobia.
Violence is a visceral attack. It is one that latches onto our bodies in both physical and emotional ways. My last article mentioned violence towards Black women. Oftentimes, when one hears the word violence one thinks of physical abuse, rather than a spectrum encompassing psychological, emotional, structural and institutional violence. However, it is these invisible violences that most forcefully and ubiquitously keep Black girls from reaching our full potential, all while forcing us to maintain an impossible standard of “strength” that we continue to rise up to and surpass.
What does it mean to bring a child into a world with the understanding that you will not be able to protect them from the racism they will almost inevitably experience? What does it mean to feel uncomfortable in your own skin? What does it mean to feel nervous or scared in situations that everyone around you, who does not look like you, feels comfortable in?