The Gabrielle Impact: Why The Black Woman Is No Longer An Alien In America
By April Byrd on August 07, 2012
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The out pour of support and defense surrounding Gabrielle Douglas's hair on the web is wonderfully refreshing, since her monumental success there have been more attempts at ostracism, but its failure comes as no surprise. In the words of Evelyn Lozada, It’s a “non-factor”. Black women have come very far from the days of disregard, backbiting and self-hatred. We've made an astonishing transformation in the areas of renewal and self-actualization in the past decade. African-American women have been made strong by the very same force which we we're seemingly caged: being unidentified or otherwise irrelevant in the media.
© Felipe Trueba/EFE/ZUMAPRESS.com
Like Gabby, excellent and professional Black women being heavily publicized in the media did create a sense of newness in American society. It has not been a frequent affair that the world has seen glory and black women being placed in the same category. Such a new thing is liable to have mixed reactions. First it was First Lady Michelle Obama's style of dress and the bearing of her muscular arms, Now it's Gabby's hair that has come up to the scrutiny of those still unaware. For a long time a skilled, cultured black woman has been an alien to the world's eye. Mainstream media didn't see much like it before, now there is such a massive emergence of innovators, icons and outlets that it's impossible to ignore.
We are making corporate and professional advancements, but also triumphs in cinema and entertainment with our own “for us, by us” style of media. Stanford University Graduate Issa Rae single-handedly raised over 100,000 dollars in funding for her series The Mis-adventures of Awkward Black Girl and is still kicking.
Now that there has been a mutual rise of black women acknowledging themselves as nerds, dorks, geeks or the like, it just shows that we are comfortable embracing all parts of ourselves. However, what choice is there but to feel awkward in a society that doesn't recognize your beauty and doesn't know where exactly to place your strength.
Filmmaker Bill Duke hit the nail directly on the head with his film Dark Girls. Most dark women, like myself in their lifetime have been plagued by the "Celie Syndrome" with proclamation’s like "You Sho' is Ugly" by our own people or being taunted in adolescence in some sort based on appearance. That was the norm, along with being the most contradictory compliment in the history of flattery: "you're pretty, (to be a black girl)". Such compliments that look more like criticisms are well known, and as many as there were, the critics were right. In their eyes our looks were the rarest and most inconceivable because brown beauty was never truly celebrated, until now.
The European look and deviations that our culture has adapted well to is indeed beautiful, but not superior. Black women as individuals have started to find and define their own inherent beauty. The natural hair phenomenon that's sweeping the nation is no coincidence, it is the powerful significance that black women's minds are being enlightened and their confidence is being lifted. We have begun to recognize our own cultural beauty.
Creativity has come along with the esteem, the amount of natural and ethnic Barbie dolls being created is endearing. It was only a matter of time before we started to become progressive and make our voices heard in entertainment media. Sister circles and roundtable discussions featured on networks like TV One have all been beneficial to the uprising. With every triumph, black women are being released from the oppressive spirit of conformity.
We are changing the landscape of society and ourselves. Now that we have come into the age of self- recognition, recognizing our own beauty, excellence and worth; we are no longer seemingly aliens in the
earth, more like the force that’s shaking it, by truly making an impact. It’s true, we had to first recognize ourselves to be recognized by others, but now after ages of Essence Magazine, supportive online media websites, and the literary excellence of Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Iyanla Vanzant it’s safe to say we clearly see who we are. We have finally arrived as a major influence in modern culture, even though some people still have to catch up, the landing has been made. In the epoch of Michelle Obama, the empire of Oprah Winfrey, and the spirit of Gabrielle Douglas identification is present like never before. Black women are no longer extraterrestrial to the nation; we are now even more imperial. Everyone has a charge to be excellent, no matter what race...So let the revolution be televised!
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