Let Them Be Girls
The unrealistic expectation that our underage brown and black girls should "just get it" has been a longstanding part of our cultural norms. They should "just get" that their frustrations are to be tucked neatly away with their anger, fear, and sadness. Once able to freely enjoy life's freedoms, our young goddesses are stripped of the chance to express their alternate needs and desires at a certain point chosen by the adults in their lives.
They should "just get" that their blossoming bodies are suddenly too tempting for predatory adolescent/teenage/adult males. Overnight, the skin they're in is an uncomfortable and unexplained territory with a little girl trapped inside a woman's frame. Although surrounded by women, they may never receive the necessary (or calming) talks about the normalcy of their development. Neither a discussion on the inappropriateness of the attention they are receiving for simply being themselves.
They should "just get" that they are expected to grow up faster than their Caucasian counterparts because that's just the way it is. Lessons harshly tossed down from hardened Queens who have perfected their tough exteriors. Women who were also forced to grow up opposed to being raised becuase there was no other choice. Some of us have forgotten that our brown and black girls are simply that...girls. Our perception of brown and black girl's abilities and understanding is a reflection of OUR experience and relationship with the world. I know I have been guilty of assuming that the young girls in my life were capable of carrying loads which would break the average girl. But why? When I was completely honest with myself, it was only because of their DNA. Only because when I was in their position at their age, I had to figure it out. I had to "just get it". That didn't negate the fact that they were still developing cognitively, emotionally and physically. They had not experienced the challenges of life in a way that was suitable for their stage of life. We have to be mindful of placing more on our young goddesses than they can bear.
They may do an adequate job of pretending to "get it", but what tends to happen later in life hurts everyone. When they disappoint us through acting out, we want them to be girls again. When they begin to dress inappropriately, turn to drugs or alcohol, rely on unhealthy or abusive relationships for connection and attention, reject love from the women in their lives, keep secrets but share everything on social media, we want them to be girls again. I implore all of us as WOC to remember a time we needed a woman in our lives to honor the stage we were in. Not to chastize us or leave us to forge our own way, but guide, support, and love us through the good, confusing, and tough times. Provide a nonjudgemental space regardless of the internal struggle it creates within yourself. Our girls need us now more than ever. The choice to dig beyond our uncomfortable emotions and RAISE our girls is a benefit to both parties. They are given tools to be informed and confident and we are also given the chance to heal.