What Being A Carefree Black Girl Means To Me

All of my experiences as a child, pre-teen, and teenager perfectly molded me into the young woman I am today and who I'm continuing to grow into. A few years back I discovered the #carefreeblackgirl hashtag on social media created by writer Zeba Bay. It was filled with pictures of millennial Black women rocking flower adorned afros, sometimes posing nude, and basking in their melanated bodies. I realized I was a "carefree Black girl" before the term was invented. Now don't roll your eyes at what I just stated. This isn't a story of me bragging about how I was "different before it was mainstream" (that shit's corny, wack, and lame), let me get into my story.

Amidst the popularity of the hashtag, several articles and blog posts were released via social media stating and insinuating that Black women do not have the luxury of being "carefree". I totally understand where the authors and bloggers are coming from. I admittedly don't excessively label myself as such (not into labels like that tbh), but I understand the overall theme of  the term. My personal definition of what being a CFBG means to me is a bit different from what many people view it as through the lens of Instagram filters and Twitter hashtags.

Growing up as a Black girl in the hood on the west side of Chicago, I've grown to discover I had a lot of traumatizing experiences. Many of my experiences weren't involved in gang culture, intense poverty, being in trouble at school, or many other experiences one may think is the "norm" when growing up in the hood. I'll get into the depth of those experiences one day, but there was trauma nonetheless. In dealing with those experiences, I absorbed myself into art as an outlet. Thankfully to the Most High I was blessed with parents who noticed my love for art of all genres at an early age (I'm talking about three years old), from dancing to painting, and placed me into programs to assist in developing my skills. I began to paint, write, and design my own world.

"A carefree black girl is…Someone who has the freedom to care about what is important while having the freedom to not care about what isn't important."- Brandi via XoNecole

My love for art and destiny to become an artist opened my eyes to a world beyond my town house community where I was introduced to haute couture/fashion design, rock, classical, and pop music, ballet, jazz dance, and other new styles of art. These activities that interested me so deeply soon became apparent in my dress, hobbies, and music choices. When it came to fashion, my mom, who's quite the fashionista herself, always encouraged me to not solely follow mainstream trends and not only dress the way people in my community thought I should dress. Remember in the early-mid 2000's brands like Rocawear, Avirex, and South Pole were hot? While mommy didn't mind me wearing those brands, however she'd always encourage me not to be scared to wear different styles of clothing with my beloved urban attire. To have that balance of cowgirl boots, vintage inspired dresses and Apple Bottom jeans with the boots with the fur.

As I engaged in, my new found love for different art genres, music, and fashion, it came with bullying from neighborhood kids and fellow students at school by the time I got to middle school. My bullying was pretty mild, not as bothersome to the extent of fighting, but nonetheless still bullying. I was accused of being a "White girl" and not being "Black enough". This made me an immediate target and seen as "weak". Girls from my neighborhood and some from school swore just because I came off a bit "weird"on the artsy tip,  that that was an invitation to try to punk me (Oh but when they found out I could get just as gully as them though).

One time in 7th grade I made a list of songs so my friend could burn a cd for me (y'all remember when mogs used to burn cds?!) and I had a few Gwen Stefani's songs from her L.A.M.B. album on the list (an era which I adored and inspired my creativity despite the cringey cultural appropriation). A classmate saw the list told me "You a white girl." I wondered if it was something wrong with liking music that wasn't "Black" (the irony of Black folk being the inventors of popular American musical genres and Pharell Williams producing much of Gwen's work at the time). At the time I began to fall in love with hip-hop music super heavy, but rock and pop music was my ish too. Give me some Evanescence, Linkin Park, Avril Lavinge, and I was good. But was I not Black enough because I also liked so called "White people music"?

In 2004/2005, Jay-Z and Linkin Park's Collision Course collaboration album came on time like clockwork. Baby, when I tell you it was thee right time. Man. As stated before, I began to fall in love with hip-hop and I loved rock music as well during my middle school years. This album was everything. The best of both worlds for me. I then realized I didn't have to choose either genre and could love both equally and even mesh them together.

I stopped giving a fuck eventually, from clothes to my attitude. I was going to embrace being this little mildly ghetto Black girl from the hood and this little creative Black girl who loved art of different genres and expressed that outwardly. Enter freshman year; even among the strict dress code climate of my private high school's khaki pants and white button ups requirements, I still donned flamboyant, extra ass earrings, rainbow striped socks, feather adorned headbands, hot pink Dooney purses, and black eyeliner. On the weekends, it was all about handmade, paint splattered, ripped jeans, old school rock band shirts, a pink hair clip in, layered silver chains, and my iconic leather, fingerless gloves that I still rock to this day. I was sixteen and legit didn't give a damn about who didn't like my colorful, punk rock meets hood girl outfits, my loudness, my boldness. I was a rebel with a cause.

"A carefree black girl is…Not letting my status of standing on the margins of both race and gender inhibit or disable me from living a life of freedom."- LaTasha via XoNecole

When I got my own job at Gallery 37 as a student artist and started buying my own clothes, it was so over. I embraced my budding individuality so much that during an attempted to wear a black leather corset, black tutu, black leather leggings, and heels to a homecoming game, my mom who was the one to encourage me to dress outside the box asked me if I was "goth". Add all of that in with my developing journey to consciousness (the kids say "woke" nowadays) and decolonization of my mind and I was a real life weirdo, let some folk tell it.

I honestly never felt like I belonged while in middle school or in high school. Although I had friends and somewhat of a healthy social life but I still wasn't immune from ridicule. I did me, but I was still quietly effected into being a lowkey outcast due to who I was and who I refused to be from my personality and attitude to my style. I even became depressed while in my senior year. It may seem petty to some, but that experience at school coupled in with issues at home caused me to be incredibly sad and stressed and I went through most of it alone. I had a vibrant personality, but was suffering in silence. One song that helped me maneuver through my pain was Simple Life's "Welcome To My Life". I recently listened to that song in happy tears thinking about how I hadn't felt like that in so long. Being alone and an outsider helped me to progress into the carefree woman who fearlessly stands as an individual today.

Being a CFBG for me extends beyond the aesthetic of the way I dress, my natural hair, and being a creative, falling into the "artsy" category. It doesn't mean I don't care about anything and I live my life frivolously without concern, that's absurd and not to mention irresponsible, but even within a misogynistic, racist, devilish world, I still get to create my own destiny and walk to the beat of my own drum still being an unashamed Black woman. The way I dress and look is simply an effect of who I am inside. It's not about trying to be "different" or a contrarian on purpose in order to distance one's self from the masses.

It's a lifestyle of living in my truth and not being bound to the boxes society wants to place me into. It's being an independent thinker, being unafraid of being myself unapologetically as a Black woman and as an individual. It's speaking my truth and my own opinions even if they're unpopular and I must say them on my own. It's a middle finger to toxic group think and desperate attempts to "fit in the crowd." Bitch, I'm the crowd and the leader. It was gallantly living in the legacy of my grandmother Velma McKay creating two businesses without any money, being a content creator, and leading a creative lifestyle.

My journey into Black womanhood and being a CFBG comes from trauma and pain and healing my wounds with vibrancy from my creative talents and the way I walk through life confidently, unapologetically, and contently.

Are you carefree? Are you a CFBG? What does it mean to you to live your life carefree? Share below!

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