Social media has exposed me to an array of false dichotomies.
Namely, the one which positions formally educated women and street educated women at opposite ends.
Society continuously attempts to expel us of the ability to exist as both, and this dichotomy is one that some black women often unknowingly perpetuate. It positions you as a supreme, magical being if your hobbies include things such as enjoying novels and trap music. Due to dangerous stereotypes, these things are presented as being so vastly different that openly embracing both can often become abrasive. By indulging in this particular perpetuation of “differences,” we contribute to nasty stereotypes that we mistakenly take for social norms. We begin to partake in hazardous behavior that consists of distancing ourselves from stereotypical “formally educated” girls while also distancing ourselves from stereotypical “ghetto” girls. We tend to take the "best" parts from both worlds in order to create this supreme black woman full of "black girl magic."
In doing this, we begin to limit the definition of "black girl magic." It becomes an archetype rather than an expression that celebrates different women with different lifestyles. Natural haired, "namaste" sayin', trap music listenin', book readin' black women cannot be the only face of "black girl magic." We cannot continue to market ourselves if it is only done to distance ourselves.
Often I feel trapped. I was privileged enough to receive a formal education, and I do identify as a womanist, but I do enjoy trap music, and Southern dialect is second nature for me. We often blindly express that certain rap music solely exists in these “poor, uneducated” spheres. (I have another article about rap elitism in the stacks somewhere.) If you pair that belief with the fact that Southern dialect is often the most negatively evaluated regional dialect, then you could easily see how such a false dichotomy could exist. Growing up, I believed that it was necessary for me to pick one side, but now I know better. Unfortunately, I still struggle with issues of authenticity.
I understand the importance of marketing yourself as multifaceted, but I don't necessarily agree with the "Get yourself a girl who loves to read AND listens to Future" packaging. It conveys a very "Pick me!" sort of message while hinting that black girls who do both should be celebrated instead of identifying it as something that could very well be a norm.
Stop making unicorns out of paradoxes deeply rooted in the creation of stereotypes.