From the Ted talk “How To Raise a Black Man” to Yale’s “To My Unborn Son” campaign, there is a focus on the plight of a Black man in a society where he is not accepted. There is nothing inherently wrong with these campaigns or videos. They are important and much needed in this society where being Black is almost seen as a curse. They capture what it means to be a Black man, but the problem is that I am not a Black man.

Black women have an interesting place in society, being both Black and a woman. They are caught in between two struggles they never asked to bear. There’s the struggle of living in a society where “White is right” and being Black is a curse, where Black bodies are killed simply for the color of their skin and where their only home is inside of a jail cell. Then there is the added struggle of living in a society where women can be sexually assaulted and then later blamed for wearing a skirt too short or pants too tight, where a woman must choose between a career and a family because the two are apparently mutually exclusive and where a woman is forced into these gender roles that allow them to use their mouth for only one thing — and it doesn’t involve speaking.

Being a Black woman means understanding certain things about your perceived place in society and developing a set of skills to prepare yourself for the wars you will be thrust into. It means knowing there is a way to act, think and even breathe in this racist White supremacist society.

Your beauty will be constantly questioned and denied. Your natural hair will be rejected. In fact, it will be called ugly, unruly and even untamed. The way you wear it will become a political statement. It will decide everything from your job opportunities to your beauty. You will doubt that the kinks and/or curls in your hair are beautiful because all your life you have seen straight hair being valued. The color of your skin will decide your beauty and worth as well. Those natural curves in your hips and your lips will only be valued when it’s put on a body with white skin.

Because of that, Black women, I need you to understand, you must understand, that you are beautiful queens. You are the very embodiment of beauty. From your wondrous hair full of curls and/or kinks that cannot be comprehended by others, to the beautiful melanin that fills every part of your skin, you are queens.

I repeat. You. Are. Queens.

Not many will understand your royalty. They will downright deny it. They will try to tear you down and criticize you from head to toe. Because of that you must develop a thick skin to withstand all the hate. No matter how many times someone tells you, “You’re pretty for a Black girl,” touches your hair or calls you angry because you dare to have an opinion, you need to learn how to let it go and not let it hurt you. That doesn’t mean it won’t hurt, but maybe, just maybe, each shot will begin to sting less.

You have to make it look like it barely stings because you will never be allowed to show your feelings, unless they are feelings of happiness. “Never get angry.” “Never get too emotional.” You are not given those privileges. The moment you let these emotions take over, you solely become the angry black woman, just another trope for them to use on a TV show.

You will be pitted against each other based on the amount of pigment in your skin — light skin vs. dark skin. Factions will be created based on your hair. Weaves. Relaxed. Natural. 3B. 4A. 4C. You will be forced to be in constant competition. Because of that, I want to remind that you must also learn to love each other. It’s easy to get caught up in our differences and let them divide us. Acknowledge your differences but don’t let that create animosity. Empower each other instead of tearing each other down. Help each other when people are tearing Black women down. Most importantly you need to love yourself. This article is not meant to victimize you, to make you feel like the world is against you or make you feel vulnerable. It’s meant to empower you.

That’s how I choose to live. I will wear my hair in it’s natural state full of kinks and curls that refuse to be controlled. I will sway my hips and ass provocatively in the shortest skirt possible and show it off to the world even if it makes people uncomfortable. You cannot tell me who to be or how to act because I cannot be defined. I will forever be an unapologetically Black woman.

Never be ashamed to be Black. Never be ashamed to be a woman. Never be ashamed of being a Black woman. Be an unapologetic Black woman until the day you die.

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