Black Girls B in the Middle

I didnt really intend to post anything today but it was dropped in my lap and I couldnt resist.  I am a Jeopardy kid from a Jeopardy family.  As a baby, I would hum the final question music and tap out the beat with my baby spoon.  I pride myself on being able to answer questions on that show and sometimes I even consider being a contestant.  Because I have always loved trivia. Little known facts that are only useful on inebriated nights with friends that are also known as game nights.  I asked my mother to buy me an almanac when I was 9 and I am a self confessed nerd. And I be code switching.  Code switching? What’s that? Well first let me tell you a little bit more about me.

I am very much a Black girl. Teetering the line between stereotype and black exception at most junctures. Yes, I love fried chicken. And yes, watermelon too.  Yes, I have been scorched by hot combs, gotten chemical scalp burns by relaxers and I know my way around an afro pic.  Yes I can sing and dance and I am not at all intimidated by a multi-layered beat (The 2 and the 4 people, the 2 and the 4!).

Yes, I know my father. Yes, I have traveled abroad. Yes, I have my degree.  Yes, I work in the arts (2 jobs as of today! Woohoo!) Yes, I am unwed and childless. And yes, I be code switching.

Code switching!? There’s that phrase again!

According to Wikipedia, in linguistics, code-switching is switching between one or more language, or language variety, in the context of a single conversation. Multilinguals—people who speak more than one language—sometimes use elements of multiple languages in conversing with each other. Thus, code-switching is the use of more than one linguistic variety in a manner consistent with the syntax and phonology of each variety.

So here’s an example, a young woman walks into a Starbucks and stands in line behind you and you hear this:

Yeah gurl so I was like I be knowin what you doin. Im not dumb and he was all like baby dont do me like that and I was like psh… Gurl hol on a sec… Hello? This is she.  Yes I can definitely do that. No problem. What time is most convenient for you? Absolutely. See you then. You do the same. Goodbye… Gurl you there so yeah like I was sayin…

So either you believe she is psychotic or… or… what do you think? Well she is code switching. Code switching is the basis of this blog and I need for you to understand that I am not being ironically ignorant. Black English is a language that is distinct from Standard American English.  If you have read enough of this blog I hope that you know that I am proficient in both.  I code because I have thoughts that can only be truly expressed in my native tongue of Black English.  Sometimes it just beez like that.

I am proud of who I am even as I try to make a way in a society that tells me I shouldnt be.  I love my brown skin, my thick hair, my almond eyes, my feisty wit and my language. It is revolutionary and I accept that.  But every once in a while something can happen like a Jeopardy category called “B in the Middle” that reminds me that I be important.

 

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Black Girls Be Thinking About Exceptionalism AKA Just Another Post About Gabby Douglas

I can admit I am not very athletic I am anti-athletic.  I can dance my tail off and I gots all the rhythm but once you turn the music off and put a ball in my hand or put me on any type of court, I lose every single ounce of coordination.  And it doesnt help that I am competitive so even when I play someone that obviously has more technical skills than I do, I get frustrated because Im losing.  Because I have more heart! I want it badder than they do! But that’s not the point of this post…

I love to watch the Olympics.  It amazes me what the human body can do.  I am amazed at the women’s bodies, especially the track runners (How many hills would I have to run to get a track booty? This is a serious question) and the menz is just pretty to look at.  And the individual stories always inspire me.

I think it goes without saying that Gabby Douglas became America’s sweetheart during the Olympics.  Her inviting smile, welcoming charm, and limitless grace only magnify her athleticism.  She seems so grounded and mature.  And her story of triumph and sacrifice is universal.  Oh yeah, and she’s a Black Girl.

I am a Black Girl. I will give you a moment to recover from your disbelief…yeah, I know… ok… you good….Moving on. As a Black Girl I am particularly moved by the successes of other Black Girls.  But every once in while I have to stop and think, hmmmm, what will it be like when it is so common to see a Black Girl succeed that it doesnt even cause a ripple.  No one blinks an eye or thinks twice.

It makes me wonder how my grandparents feel. Going from sharecroppers and nannies to having kids with Master’s degrees and high Naval ranks.  And their grandkids with their college degrees, high paying jobs and traveling all over the world.  When I am a grandmother will I watch the Olympics with my grandchildren and marvel at all of the colored faces while they dont even notice them?

And if black achievement is no longer deemed exceptional than will Black failure no longer feel like a blight against every Black person?  Will there ever be a day when Black girls and Black boys can live their lives without feeling like they are carrying the weight of their people?  Will we ever be able to just be?

I hope that day comes and I hope I am alive to see it.  But when it does come, like a playful memory of a virginity long lost, we will never forget our first. Barack, Michelle, Oprah, Toni, and now little Golden Gabby. But I hope we dont have firsts for much longer.