In 2011, I went to the Bronner Brothers Hair Show in Atlanta with my mom, aunt, and cousin. I enjoyed it so much! The show was so exciting and unlike anything I had ever been to before. If you have not experienced it, I highly recommend it. This event also included vendor tables. I specifically remember my mom showing me a “Black Girls Rock” t-shirt. It was a simple, black, fitted shirt and the words were spelled out in rhinestones. She asked me if I wanted it. All I could say was, “It’s cute.” She said, “Yeah, but do you want it?” I ended up saying yes so my mom bought the shirt for me.
When we got home, I buried the shirt to the bottom of my drawer. I wore it one time. To my great aunt’s house out in the country. Because I knew that I would only see family that day. Anytime I contemplated wearing the shirt, I thought about what thoughts might run through people’s heads, especially at school. One day, I was cleaning my room, getting rid of old clothes, and I threw out the t-shirt.
To be honest, I was embarrassed to wear it. Saying it now sounds ridiculous, but I was. I never really used to take pride in who I was and it makes me sad to look back on this. There are a few reasons I can think of that may have caused me to avoid the shirt:
- People’s reactions and stares. I already don’t like attention. It was a very bold statement. So I figured people would think, “Who does she think she is?” and “Why do black girls rock specifically?”
- Maybe black girls/women weren’t in the limelight as much when I was that age. Which led me to think that there wasn’t anything to be proud of.
- Stereotypes that exist about black women.
I was only 17! And ashamed of who I was, to say the least. I didn’t think anything of it then because it was a t-shirt. But it means so much more to me now. I am so glad that black women are more present in media these days and helping others see their worth.
For those of you who don’t know, Black Girls Rock is actually a nonprofit mentoring organization that works to empower women globally. That is a HUGE deal. And if I still had that shirt today, I would be rocking it.