Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.
— Margaret Mead
This is the fate of colored girls globally right now: the denial of their girlhood, the denial of their childhood, and the constant state of risk and danger they are living in.”
― bell hooks
I spent the day writing and grading and thinking about my long term plans for publishing articles and for empowering black female YouTube content creators via my collaborations with my students. It was a powerful weekend where feelings of play were present but not feelings of being a child, with no control, over how life goes. It was an energetic, focused, and peaceful day at home. Last weekend I went to see the Kara Walker installation at the Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Going again soon. You must not miss this!! Check our the inspiration for the installation from Kara’s sketches here.
Lush Tongue Restoration
Yesterday, I had a rehearsal and vibes sessions with members of Lush Tongue, a feminist vocal acappella group led by Onome Om that I recently joined. We have our first performance June 7th at LAVA in Brooklyn. To get acquainted we shared the moment(s) we decided music was our lives.
The five women present from the 6 member ensemble shared all the typical ways patriarchy in musical settings can shut you down, steal your voice. They also shared of family and father figures who helped give their musical expression voice. And I shared about how my developing vocal memoir seems to be all about men in and around my life.
So what does all this have to do with International Children’s Day you might ask?
Anybody Sing Me a Black Girls’ Song
I don’t know. But I do think that WHO we all have become as women started at a very young age and shaped our mindset about being female, about the context of life where men and boys seem to rule, and how to bargain for more power and more voice even at a young age. Girls’ agency matters. And I think we owe subsequent generations of children and especially girls — present and in the future to come — an opportunity to know childhood as a space of wholeness, and holiness, for their personhood and their particular ethnic culture.
Article 30 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states:
In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities or persons of indigenous origin exist, a child belonging to such a minority or who is indigenous shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of his or her group, to enjoy his or her own culture, to profess and practise his or her own religion, or to use his or her own language.
This applies to black girls twerking off- and online, black girls rapping off- and online, black girls beatboxing and breakin’ off- and online, and just being themselves – quirky, funny, nerdy, sexy, creative, curious, patient, entrepreneurial and smart on- and offline. All of our lives, and especially children’s lives and even moreso the lives of girls of color here in the US and girls living in poverty abroad, are changing in ways we cannot always see, witness (despite the publicness of everything via online video today), or understand fully, online.
Your online reputation today may make or break you tomorrow. So watch out!
For some fun, here are some short YouTube videos of girls’ from around the world playing the kind of games I wrote about in my first book. These are black girls’ games off-line.
Happy International Children’s Day!!
(yesterday now that I am posting past midnight)
IN THE GAMBIA, THEY THROW BODY NOT SHADE!
IN LIBERIA, THEY BE CLAPPIN’ IT OUT WITH GAMES THAT ARE FUNK-AY!
HEY GIRL, BACK IN THE U.S.!! DO YOUR THANG..AND SWITCH!!
Til next time.