The power of the “carefree black girl” narrative

“Technology is nothing without the capacity to make people dream. That is where the power of technology resides…It is embraced insofar as people believe in the promise of inheriting it, of improving their own lives, making it better and freeing themselves of structural constraints.  The internet intensifies that capacity to dream and that narrative of liberation” – Achille Mbembe, The Chronic, Chimurenga magazine

Carefree adj. : untroubled, buoyant, radiant, light-hearted, happy.

“What a time to be alive.” (Future & Drake, 2015) Indeed, what a time it is to be alive. I’m writing this as I sit on my single university-accommodation bed in Edinburgh, Scotland. I got a scholarship for my Masters, and my mother practically shoved me onto the plane. I miss her terribly. I don’t know how else to repay her, but to continue my journey as a carefree black girl, unconquerable. (If you’re Zimbabwean, please pronounce that last word the same way we sang it in war cries at school :’D)

This morning I saw the news of Viola Davis of How to get away with Murder making history as the first black woman to win an Emmy for best actress. Uzo Aduba won her second Emmy for her role as “Crazy Eyes” in Orange is the New Black. Nominated for Davis’ category was my main main, Taraji P. Henson as well, whose role as Cookie ignites a fire in my heart and pushes me to slay with all my might. Today I was also overwhelmed with images of #BlackDayOut on Twitter, a day where People of colour all over the world post pictures of their melanin, celebrating their complexions in a world that dehumanises and erases them daily. Nothing made me happier than seeing my people happy and proud to be who they are.

The narrative of the carefree black girl has never been more important in my life as it is now. This narrative speaks to me as a black, Zimbabwean and African woman whose culture and societal norms are suffocating and burdensome. I am conditioned to care; to care about my appearance to the opposite sex, my ‘wifely’ skills, my virginity (or lack of it), my career but only insofar as it doesn’t hinder my mothering years. I am conditioned to care about the whispers behind my back, the way other girls are behaving, the cultural customs that make me respectable, and lastly of course, the career I should build that isn’t too masculine or time-consuming. I live largely in a society that sees me as a means to an end – a means to furthering the human race, a means to cradling the fragile masculinity of a future husband. To be a ‘carefree’ black girl seems almost impossible in the world I live in. But thank Mbuya Nehanda it isn’t.

To be carefree for me, means to dream constantly. To learn, to evolve and to grow. To unshackle myself from the chains of patriarchy and sexism, even if for a day. The carefree black girl narrative is located in a time when to be womanist is seen as a betrayal of culture and religion. It’s in a time when, as black women we make ten steps forward and often are pushed twenty steps back by people who think our movement is threatening or worse, unimportant. The narrative is shared in spaces that can be hugely dangerous for women (i.e. cyber bullying) and is met with fear, cringing and generalisations. To be carefree however, means to know all this, and to slay anyway. It means to laugh from the depths of your soul, to walk with the confidence of an African dictator, and to rule your piece of the internet with the power of a thousand matriarchs. It means to see your privilege and to confront it head on and listen sincerely to different experiences so as to learn from them. It means to celebrate other black women for their achievements, to spread love and support to those of us who need it most. To be a carefree black girl means to radiate slayage and and to bypass the bullshit on the way up the ladder of success.

I owe my good mood today and my love for my melanin to Twitter’s amazing black women who have breathed life into me these past couple of months.

I will strut powerfully through and over whiteness until it stands in awe of my divinity.

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