Small Bites Friday Five Sheroes 3-12-21
Lisa Jones, author of Bulletproof Diva, the most important book I read coming into womanhood. As the daughter of two writers, activist Amiri Baraka and “Semitic mother of African-American children”, Hettie Jones, Lisa is your go to if you want to know about color in America.
Sara Jordan Powell, a singer who I especially admired growing up. She sang with, and for, greats like Sally Martin, James Cleveland and even Ray Charles and Jimmy Carter. I loved her voice, but more importantly, the way she smiled and spoke to me when I was just a little girl.
Hedy Lamarr, an actress for whom I was named. She co-developed a secret radio signaling device important during the war– and to the development of today’s cell phones!
Barbara Jordan, congressional representative from Texas and a Black lawyer from an HBCU who broke down barriers and checked off a list of firsts too numerous to mention. My favorites? The woman has not one but 2 speeches in American Rhetoric’s Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century. Mostly, though, she was a household name and resident hero where I grew up.
I remember the horrified look on my mom’s face when I told her I wanted to be white. I was 8 and I still remember the shift in the air in our yellow and orange kitchen. My momma, never at a loss for words, paused. Then she asked me why. “Because when I hang upside down on the bars I want my hair to swing too,” I informed her. The self-hatred she expected to hear about was really my desire to have what other kids had, to be what I saw around me. Hair that moved, straight hair, “good” hair…if you are Black, you have gone through all kinds of hair phases, most of them having to do with the unnecessary taming of kinks and curls into Eurocentric submission.
Even as we embrace what makes us beautiful–from the Black is Beautiful rallying cry of the 70s to the natural hairstyle trends of today, the standard of beauty that most of us have grown up with, until recently, is blonde/blue. Seeing Lupita, Viola and Michelle grace glossy covers regularly is new. Seeing models that have real bodies like in Dove campaigns is new. Embracing diversity is new. Showing it off?? Real new!
Looking at magazine covers and models for this post made me realize that we are seeing more diverse images. Beauty is being embraced in all forms, shades, colors, abilities and textures. Yes, there is still work to do to ensure that art imitates life. BUT with shorts like Hair Love and a growing number of people speaking up and speaking out, little girls who look like me have a better shot at embracing who they are, in all their natural beauty, naturally.
In honor of Women’s History Month, I celebrate all the regular women out there learning to love their thick thighs, flat chests, kinky kitchens and their ebony, brown, olive, beige or alabaster skin. Whether we are blonde/blue, brown/brown or something in between, the battle for self-acceptance knows no color lines; and if there is one thing we all need, it’s a little more self love.
Happy Women’s History month.