I recently binge-watched the latest season of Netflix’s Queer Eye and the episode “Black Girl Magic” got me in my feelings for a few reasons. I won’t be reviewing the episode. Instead, I’ll be sharing how I relate to Jess and why I still battle with being “Black enough”.
If you haven’t watched the episode yet (what have you been doing with your life!?) or need a refresher. Read the best review I’ve ever read on anything, ever.
Jess grew up gay in a religious adopted family. That coupled with the fact that she liked alternative music and had a unique sense of style made her the perfect prey for school-yard bullies. Before she was outed and kicked out of her home for being gay she felt “othered”. She wasn’t black enough and she could never be white. She wasn’t allowed to be gay so how could she be herself? Who was she? Did she even have time to figure that out?
Drug addicts raised me. By the time I was 7 I’d gone from homeless to a foster home to living with my mom in one of the richest, whitest counties in the country. I was one of two black families at my school. Moving from the hood to the burbs, was a culture shock but eventually, I acclimated. Soon I was being called an Oreo. Family members asked why I “talked white” while others accused me of acting “uppity”. So there I was, at the intersection of Not Black Enough Boulevard and Could Never Be White Lane.
Jess and I share other similarities, I like rock music and had a skater period. There are things that would no doubt get my “Black Card” revoked. Like not knowing how to play Spades or Dominoes. The biggest commonality is the sense of abandonment from our own community.
I’ve been able to move past and grow from these experiences but this episode triggered me. To this day people come at me with their microaggressive bullshit. From being told that I “speak so well” by ignorant asshats or reading comments like “I hate that Valley Girl accent on sistas.” It’s like, ‘OK sir how would you like me to speak? My only goal in life is to fit into some bullshit box that makes it easier for you to notice my black girl magic!’
Just a few weeks ago I hosted a Fat Girls Traveling Meetup in NYC. One of the attendees said that she was surprised that I was black because there are so few black women in the group. This isn’t the first time another person of color has mentioned this to me, and it was also something that I’d notice. It made me feel like I’d lost my black girl magic. I wasn’t being accepted by my own community and I think I figured out why.
Fat Girls Traveling NYC Meetup
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told a black person about Fat Girls Traveling and their response was “You’re not fat! You’re thick!”. The black community prefers words like thick and curvy, I think because they sting a bit less. Society has stigmatized the word fat, it’s undesirable and you’d be a fool to identify as fat. That’s exactly what bore the Fat Acceptance Movement. Fat, black, queer and other marginalized people started this revolution. Still, my group is 80% white due to semantics.
The Neon Museum is a wheelchair accessible facility. Lots of photo ops in a small area!
Don’t get it twisted! I love every one of the Fat Girls Traveling Community Members. This group has given me a sense of purpose and a joy that I can’t begin to express. But there’s something about being embraced by your community that’s inexplicably special. It’s sad to say that I don’t see much diversity within the community that I’m building. As an advocate for diversity and inclusivity that sucks! What sucks, even more, is that the root of the issue is a fucking word.
So, are you Black enough? White enough? Straight enough? Questioning enough? Society forces us to check a box. Then tells us how we don’t measure up. I know that I am black and fat. I know that I am enough. And that I’m magical AF!