Understanding the “why” of the title “I’M A PRETTY LITTLE BLACK GIRL!”
I have always dedicated my life to raising my son in the best possible way. I am one of those Moms that
believes when it comes to the betterment of my child’s education and life. “If it’s out there, I’ll find it. If it’s not, I’ll create it.” So with this, I have raised funds for his elementary school orchestra, set up on-site tennis lessons that never existed, created a Spoken Word/Hip Hop Poetry Performance program –with my kid involved too — specifically for academically successful Asian kids to inspire them to “get beyond the books” and live out their inner “hip/hop desires”(and we all have them — I do a mean Salt ‘n Peppa “Shoop” rendition!) and so many other little things along the way. So feeling that I have been out there on the edge and in front of the curve with a pro-global, eco-feminist, rainbow coalition mentality and my every-first-Sunday-at-the-Black-church self, I was taken aback when I told my own son questioned me with the word “why” when I told him the numerous reports that I get of this: fully grown Black women read my book and cry.
I have always realized, that as a male, he would have a whole different song to sing. And though it is still a kind of blues, his blues won’t be like mine.
I looked at him quizzically as if I have failed somehow, or misdirected him in someway. But I realized that it wasn’t me failing, it was him being a teenager in this glorious age where every time you turn the television on, there is a Black face in some form or capacity. I had to share with him, that though he was born in the Beverly Hills area, and lived in Hancock Park and adjacents, that there was a time where Blacks and whites were not neighbors. That we — as we do now — could not step out of our front door and see a pony-tailed white girl jogging and smiling a chipper, sing-song “hello” to you. And it was during that time not so long ago, that EVERYTHING on television related to anything “pretty” or “beautiful” was a reflection of that white girl and her ONLY. It was during that time that I was grew up in the South. There were no books for us as little Black girls telling us we were pretty and valued. There was no book celebrating all of our pretty shades of brown and showing us having girlie-fun together and helping each other should we fall and skin our knees, or dressed in cute pajamas in our own girlie bedrooms in our cozy homes. We grew up “pre-Bill Cosby show, 1980’s” — and there has been no show of the like since, I might add. So in my dedication to raising my son to be the best Black man and human being he can be, I have to make sure that while I keep him aware of his own self-value as a Black man in America, that I do not get in the way of his freedom to live in a global society that he is living in. It was he who challenged me to create books for all little girls of color because he wanted to support them in seeing themselves, too. There was once a defining moment when I picked him up from school when he was in the second grade. And while driving home, he began to tell me of learning about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I then said to him, “Joshua, I want you to be like Martin Luther King when you grow up”. He then said to me without pause and with youth-driven certainty, “Mommy, I don’t want to be a leader of just the Black people, I want to be the leader of ALL the people!”. Then chewed on his fruit roll-up. I was stunned to silence by his awareness, then I actually pouted a bit, thinking that something, or some good work — was going to be left undone by our future leaders. However, in his childlike vision and foresight, Joshua’s 6 year-old answer to me was soon to be supported by the election of President Barack Obama.
Even though, with his “new millennium, instagram-and-twitter-all-your-business youthful lack of understanding of grown women crying over the book, he asked “Why?”.
I wrote this book, I’M A PRETTY LITTLE BLACK GIRL! with this title by throwing down the hammer of long-overdue-post-civil rights self-entitlement because I had to live out my life with the words, ‘why not?”
YOUR BLUES AIN’T LIKE MINE is the title of a book by the formidable BEBE MOORE CAMPBELL. I dedicate this post to her memory, and in honor of Mr. Ellis Gordon, Jr.