I’m going into my 36th year of this Black Girl/Black Woman space in life and I could not be more thrilled. I appreciate everything that I am, everything that I will be and am learning to love the woman I am becoming: the woman that my mother saw that I would be when I was running amok between 14-22. When I think of my childhood, and things that made it special, I find one theme apparent – black women spaces.
From getting my hair washed for the first time in my grandmother’s kitchen sink, to my my aunt teaching me how to do it myself, to my first time getting my hair pressed, and even my first library card facilitated by my mother, black women made space for me. They made space, sometimes at the risk of their own peace and bodies, for me. The memories of teaching me to jump rope, how to cook, even how to shop, flood my mind as I begin the legacy of space-making for my own daughters; the space-making that tells them over and over again, “you matter” and “you matter to me.”
I value that space. I create such space in the midst of abject and object daily crazy. I FaceTime my best friends, I cackle loudly with the black girls at work, and go out of my way to make sure these same women are okay. I become space. I miss that space when I don’t have access to it – I rage against the tiredness that would tell me that I don’t need it, that the diversity of friends I have is sufficient. My heart knows that it isn’t, won’t ever be, true.
Of course it is fabulous to have friends of mine that are along the social spectrum: different nationalities, religions, jobs or even economic backgrounds. I enjoy that I am invited into their spaces, their lives and even into the lives of their children – a psuedo aunt in some cases. I could not be more thrilled. I don’t shy away from new experiences, thoughts or teachings – no matter the teacher. I teach my children the same thing. However, as I go through this life, I am excited about the black women that I know and love, the space we create: the access we as black girls, ultimately black women, grant and make for one another.
I love our slang, our laughter, our colloquialisms: from hot combs, to edge control, to the black girl dance we do to get into the jeans we love, and the childhood-turned-adulthood rule not to “sweat out our hair.” The laughs that are released are healing, they are affirming, they let me know that I am not alone.
In the black girl space I am pretty, I am known, I am lovely and oh-so smart. I am a survivor, I am a warrior and a secret sister-keeper. All of us are. I get to be a part of the social ancestry that I saw in my grandmother’s kitchen while she picked greens, my mother’s living room when her sisters visited and on back porches that grown folk had us play on while they had their ‘grown folk conversations.’ I am now an access point, a healing vessel. I get to show my daughters how necessary it is to build up women that look like you, that this support is indeed invaluable. I get to show them that you can create family in friends and have it mean more than blood kinship. I get to show them how to own all that makes them black and woman and how wondrous that is.
In these spaces, created because of necessity, in spite of the world around us, we get to be us. We get to be free. We get to take off the armor for a moment, and breath deep. We get to pour out the day or absorb it. In the vulnerability of nappy edges, ashy knees, and heads wrapped up, we get to be free. I love that. I get to show my daughters that making space in this world is indeed an anchor and they are not above needing that reassurance from women who walk a similar path. That space hewn for them, made for us, allows them to remember how valuable they are. This value informs then that they can become anything, conquer anything.
I look forward to those times where I can breathe and be. I look forward to the career-centered coffee talks, the happy hours full of laughter and the dinners that encompass everything. I look forward to time where I can add my love, my light and my strength to the roux that makes this space exceptional. Every woman needs the space where she can be both girl and Wonder Woman. We are no exception.