Am I, “Good Enough”
By, Ascellia M. Arenas
Have you been paying attention to popular media, music, television, film, and social media? Well, according to what I’ve been seeing and hearing there a lot of negative opinions out here about black women: what makes us good, and what makes us bad. We watch talk shows where black women are dragged for filth as their children’s images are placed on a television monitor and a man screams, “there’s no way I could be that baby’s father, she’s a hoe.” And we laugh…
Women are shamed for having an opinion, embracing and celebrating sexuality, for how we choose to wear our hair, for whatever our bodies look like, and whether or not we are worthy enough to be treated like “Queens.” The music we dance to often refers to women as bitches and hoes. Well dressed beautiful women with ample resources to purchase expensive clothing, luxury items, cars, homes, and other visible trappings of success are fodder for amusement on reality television. Women are frequently placed in hostile situations/environments where they have to show dominance by physically fighting or cursing each other. We are constantly debating about and measuring our worth. We are being informed by unhealthy stereotypes that if unchecked, will seep deeper into the psyche of the next generation of men and women. It has already taken root in more people than we are willing to admit.
There have been many times where I have faced judgment, speculation, been treated unfairly, and treated poorly even by men of my own race. There comes a time when a black woman faces herself in the mirror and asks the question, why am I still not considered to be good enough? I thought I had “Black Girl Magic” pumping through my veins…Ahhh, yes, of course I do, and YES I am good enough, AS IS!
I am a mother of two intelligent, healthy, handsome, male children. I don’t know if I will ever conceive another child, male or female. I often wonder how I would raise a female child. I do have a step-daughter from my previous marriage, I am an educator, I was a cheerleading coach; so, I have been able to mentor and nurture female children in my lifetime. But what if…If I gave birth to a female child, what could I instill in her psyche, from birth, to help her compartmentalize all of the aforementioned stereotypes? How can I help her know the difference between who she knows she is and who people try to tell her she is. This is important. This is a real thing. My beloved grandmother Eunice used to say, “it ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to…”
If I had a female child, at this time in my life, I’d tell her…
1. I love you. Your father loves you. You are beautiful.
2. Your very best effort is all I will accept.
3. You are capable of doing anything you want to do. Just be sure you can live with the consequences.
4. If you get in trouble, if you make a mistake, as long as you are honest and face the repercussions, I will be there for you, and yes…you are grounded.
5. Help people, for free, at first…
6. Popularity is a gift and a curse. The same pedestal they put you on, they will kick you off of. Take what you need and move on.
7. Don’t drink/eat anything you didn’t make yourself, watch being prepared, or buy. If you go on a date, make sure you call me or your father if you feel the least bit uncomfortable. You aren’t going to date until you go to college, so, there’s that…
8. If you post it, it was seen, by someone, and they saved it, and it will reappear when you least expect it. So, stand up for your own point of view and don’t be ashamed. If you will regret it, don’t post it.
9. Dance…in the rain, on tables, on planes, on trains, in fields, on stage, at parties, at home in your mirror…never let anybody tell you that you are wrong for it, ever. Your body, your rules. If you are rhythmically challenged, you may need some lessons. I got you, thank me later.
10. If someone decides that they don’t like you, that your hair doesn’t meet their standards, your body doesn’t meet their approval, your skin is too light/dark, your teeth are crooked/gapped/chipped, that your voice sounds funny, that your fingers or toes are too long, short, crooked, fat; that your style/look is too different (with a negative tone), that you need to be different in any way to gain their acceptance, or that you aren’t “good enough,” as is, their loss. Get to steppin…
11. If you want to change anything about your looks because you feel like it, because you know who you are and you want to switch it up a little, and you can afford to pay for it with your own money, cool. I’m down, we can share accessories.
12. Your brothers are a little weird…In a good way though. I know, trust me, they are good people and will protect you with every bit of strength they have in them. I know because they did the same for me…I’ll tell you about it when you’re 20.
13. Your legacy is amazing, you family history is remarkable, most people think it’s a bunch of lies but I have receipts. We good, baby girl. Know that.
14. You can be whoever you want to be! Have courage, be fair, don’t lie, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t let anybody make you feel like you can’t have what you want if you don’t. Never ever be afraid to fly.
Yes, 14 is my favorite number …I digress…
My darling, you are a princess because your Mama is a Queen. One day you will wear the crown and share these truths with our next generation.
“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”- Maya Angelou