Google "black teen girls."
Go ahead—I triple dog dare you.
But don’t do it while your babies are standing by your side.
Because if you do, your children are going to catch an eye-full—a bevy of sites highlighting every sexually-charged, nasty, smutty, dirty thing a perv could ever fantasize about our girls, laid out in black and white, page after filthy page, for all the world to see. If it’s not a porn site dedicated to showcasing “young hot” poontang, then it’s a link to a story about how many black girls have STDs, YouTube videos of them popping their booties, or sites showing them beating each other to a bloody pulp.
Dead. Fish. Eyes.
I stumbled on this madness a few days ago while helping a friend of mine, who, in the middle of writing a book about black teen girls and self-esteem, asked me to help her find organizations dedicated to ushering our girl-children into womanhood. Now, it’s hard to shock me; I’m a black woman in America and I know how poisonous and unforgiving pop culture can be, particularly when it comes to images of African-American femininity. But this right here? I simply didn’t expect it—not so blatant, so in-your-face, so ridiculously callous.
And then we wonder why our girls are catching hell at every turn. We’ve got barely-legal singers like THIS FOOL singing chart-topping songs about how he’s going break headboards banging girls, and fashion companies hanging in the center of urban communities billboards LIKE THIS, featuring a young woman on her knees, looking like she’s either about to suck—or just finished sucking—on some boy’s privates, like she was made to master it. And statistics that ring the alarm on the state of black girls—poor graduation rates, high teen pregnancy stats, low self-esteem, increased suicide rates, boots in sexual violence against our babies—go virtually unaddressed, virtually ignored.
I wrote a feature story about this for the April/May issue of the incredible health and lifestyle magazine, HEART & SOUL, the issue with the beautiful actress Regina King gracing the cover (it's on stands now—cop a copy!). In it, I explored the state of black girls, and let’s just say, it ain’t pretty. In the piece, I talk to social media activist Gina McCauley, founder of the website, WHAT ABOUT OUR DAUGHTERS, who told Heart & Soul that the staggering statistics speak volumes to the need for a focused, intensive intervention on behalf of black girls.
“Black women and girls are the living dead,” said McCauley, whose site calls attention to injustices against black women and girls—from unfair media coverage and pop culture to crimes against them. “We’re ignored because we’re walking around and we have the audacity to survive the crime, the violence, and the turmoil. But if you look at all these problems we have, they all lead back to the fact that we are in insecure situations and we’re all catching hell. The African American community surrounds black men, but the crisis of black women gets marginalized or dismissed altogether, and that does nothing more than hurt us all.
“But if they will not fight for us,” McCaughly added, “we must fight for ourselves.”
Indeed. It was scary enough to usher a black boy through teenhood without him getting arrested, killed, marginalized, dismissed or snatched away from us in some kind of crazy fashion. Like I wrote HERE about our son, Mazi, he turned out pretty okay. But now, Nick and I have this whole other world of danger on the horizon, where our daughters will be seen as nothing more than future porn stars or disease-carrying sex addicts or mini-thugs beating the hell out of each other between takes of them shaking it fast for the latest YouTube entry.
This—this is what a men in Germany, women in Switzerland, teens in Japan, aunties and uncles and mamas and papas in Idaho and Hawaii and Puerto Rico and Iraq see and think about our children when they Google “black teen girls.” One dimension—that’s all our babies get.
How on Earth do we even begin to change this?