My kids are growing up in a town not unlike the one I grew up in, where there are more faces that don't look like us than ones that do. That didn't bother me growing up. Why should it have? I had friends of all races. We played with white Barbies and black Cabbage Patch Kids. We didn't care.
And then high school happened. Somehow in the blink of an eye, race became important. I had my white friends who were in most of my classes. I had my black friends who were everywhere else. Then you had the smart kids. The band kids. The athletes (believe it or not, I was all three of those at one point). As a smart black kid, you were sometimes accused of "talking white." As a smart black kid, you were sometimes praised (uncomfortably) for being "articulate," as though a black kid speaking the Queen's English was a surprise.
The uncomfortable truth is that for too long, many of us have put each other in boxes when the fact is, there is no more box. Or rather, there shouldn't be.
As women, each of us has our own story to tell. Some of us are nerds and we like Jay-Z, but we also listen to Taylor Swift sometimes and yeah, we know what ratchet means, and yes, this is my real hair, but no you can't touch it, and just because I'm black, please don't look at me when referencing life in the inner city because even though I'm from Mississippi, I grew up in the suburbs.
We marry our high school sweethearts or the guy that we thought would only be a one night stand or the woman we met through mutual friends. And sometimes we think these people are the loves of our lives and instead they abuse us, but we don't let that write the entire story of our lives.
And some of us have jobs where we carry guns or train people who carry M-16s on a regular basis. Some of us are viral internet sensations. Some of us specialize in taking sexy, empowering photos. Some of us stay at home to take care of our kids. Or our grandkids. Or our parents. Or our dogs.
How could you possibly put all of that in a box?
It's no accident that we have chosen this month — Black History Month — to celebrate and recognize how diverse we are as women. We will spend these 28 days sharing, talking, laughing, crying — embracing who we are as women. Come in, have a seat, stay a while. Get to know these women who have, in many cases, bravely agreed to share their lives with us. These women who have agreed to help us illustrate our point: that we are all women, living our lives on our own terms. Writing our own stories.
And that's what makes us so beautiful.
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