Today beautiful black women smiled at me.

I made my way to Observatory last Sunday. It was a cold, grey day. I was nervous and  hesitant but positive that this was going to be something worth my time. I was on my way to #ForBlackGirlsOnly,  an event created for black women to come and share, laugh, dance, cry and just feel safe enough to bare their individual truth.

We had been told to wear black. As I parked in Station rd, I began to see woman carrying pillows and blankets, boxes of pizza, buckets of chicken, salads, home-cooked left overs. They were all wearing black  – no, rocking the socks off black – . Women with hair, with no hair, with braids, with twists, with colourful head scarves, with beaded dreads, with bantu knots, cornrows, natural blown-out afros. It was Black-Africa, Black-Power on the streets.

Women of all shades of brown and black and blue-black. We met up in one space, a safe place, to celebrate our hue and varying shades of melanin. It was breathtaking, the earth moved and left hearts shaking. I was terrified. Black woman, often, (including me) seem unfriendly. Especially amongst  each other. – Not because we are unfriendly, but because we are tired of protecting our softness – .

I was told as a young teen, that I smiled too much. I was told by my black boyfriend at the time, that it would get me into trouble. He told me that white women smiled and that black women did not. That conversation ended our relationship. I smile when I am happy. When I am not, I don’t. Simple!

On this day, I was possibly the happiest that I have ever been amongst strangers. I could not contain my emotions. Everywhere I looked were women. Beautiful women with contagious smiles. Women with shades that hold secrets, cover bruises and devour painful lies. Women who looked and felt like me. Women who when I spoke recognised the experience from where my personal story stemmed from.

I was alone amongst complete strangers, yet I felt loved and celebrated. I was shining while others were shining too, yet none of us shadowed each other, none of us were competing to be the brighter sun. We were a constellation of raw diamonds. Perfect in size and shape. Shining.

Conversations were had. Chicken was eaten, alcohol was consumed and we danced. Oh how we danced and sang and called for the moon. I felt washed free of my anger. Washed clean of my fuck-off protection face. I felt cleansed and exfoliated of all the dirt I carry daily, piled onto me by passers by. I felt royal. Like a queen among queens. I was clean for the first time since I recognised my own difference, my otherness, my labels and boxes. I felt black like the night-sky, never-ending, celebrated, silk, velvet, magnificent, black.

I have been told that Black women don’t smile, don’t laugh, don’t joke, don’t celebrate, aren’t happy, are angry and cold and tough. On that grey Sunday, we were black women. We were everything that people fear and love and can’t  understand. We were proud and loud and joyful and fierce. We were black. Together, no longer alone and it was powerful. Life altering. A moment not to be forgotten.  We smiled and shared our beauty outwardly.

– I have chosen not to go into what wash discussed and shared. It was a safe space and will  remain so.  Here I have shared my feelings rather than the facts. –

#ForBlackGirlsOnly a celebration of melanin.

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