I’m used to noise. I’m used to laughter, swearing, and other voice-powered thought in the midst of conversation. When my husband met me, he said I was a loud girl.
The LOUD girl.
When I was little, I didn’t know what that was. I did know that the loud girl was. I know that my mother taught my younger sister to be diplomatic versus loud and abrasive. “There is no need to act like you have no couth about you.”
My mom didn’t get loud with customer service, snap off about wrong orders or missing fries, or get finger-pointing indignant in Target when she thought she was being overcharged for something. In a world that expects every black woman to be this angry, mendacious presence, she was an antidote for that.
Aside from my mother and grandmother, the most formidable woman I know is five foot tall. My Aunt Linda is the most boisterous woman of whom I am related. She meant what she said, said what she meant and had no qualms about letting ninjas have it if she was upset–and it was never at a whisper.
But in that dichotomy held my balance. That same balance I knew and saw that not every girl whom looked like my mother or aunt had.
I learned how to handle people. I learned that not everyone responds to class and charm. I also learned that demure and finesse work a lot better than screaming and cursing which lead to more attention than you wanted–but you keep going because there’s attention drawn.
I learned to mean what I say and back up what I said I would and could do. The secret weapon? Be meek as a dove and wise as a serpent. Be vigilant and unfuckwitable.
I’ve seen the women that look like me in less than favorable light and speech whom have totally snapped out and lost it. I, too, have been the one that was in a less than favorable light, snapped out and lost it, with the trifecta present: cuffs, police and a camera.
In writing, there are moments that make editors insane because the text they read is not akin to the speech they are used to, and they desire to change it. That could be no more correct than in the community I make my home.
There are women so acquainted with pain that all they can do is lash out because they have never been listened to and had to fight for all they had. Men included. There are some women whom never have had to experience that type of loss, abandonment or pain whom look down on the women whom have. The lack of life experience can make you callous or curious.
If we’re honest, we all have been the loud girl or have loved one. We’ve also pointed them out and warned our younger siblings not to be that.
The we’ve also been the girl that couldn’t take anymore, who had to fight and stand up for herself because no one else has or would. We’ve dressed this pain and awareness up with degrees and zipcodes and $30 lipstick. But TRUST, those lioness selves stay at the ready.
Black women are not a monolith. We need to stop seeing ourselves as that. There are levels and depths to our stories and speech that can’t be dismissed because a woman that looks like you thinks it’s uncouth.
Granted, not every woman needs to be popping off about fries or full sets–not everything needs to be handled with a level-10 response. And just because the woman quietly waiting behind the woman at Target whom is popping off about sheet set she just bought isn’t being just as silly does not mean she doesn’t have the capacity to take it there if need be.
We gotta do better y’all. We start that by accepting the Great Gatsby quote as gospel:
Just because she’s the loud girl doesn’t mean she’s less than, hear?
If you’re honest, you knew them fries were cold and just didn’t say nothing…