The Nice Black Girl

It’s a funny thing when the word ‘nice’ starts to feel like an insult.

I mean we’ve always been taught that the word is the most basic positive adjective and this goes back as far as primary school. So, what is it about being called ‘sweetie’ and ‘honey’ by complete strangers or people that we vaguely know that makes our blood boil? Why does the adoring remark ‘oh, isn’t she just lovely’ have such an annoying twang after a while?

Now, I can’t speak for white culture. As far as I know, when white people say stuff like this, they really mean it and it comes with no condescending intent at all. But I’ve been surrounded with black culture in London long enough to know that when a black girl calls you ‘Sweetie’ she thinks you’re a damn fool and a complete walk-over. She thinks you’re naive, gullible, and have a lot to learn. She thinks you’re too innocent to know your worth. It’s when the phrase ‘kindness taken for weakness’ really begins to make sense.

And why? What differentiates you from the other girls? What’s the one feature you have that causes people to treat you significantly differently?

You’re nice.

And I’m sure it’s not the first time you’re hearing it. Your friends have probably called you out on it before. You’ve probably been told that you’re too nice and that people will take advantage of you forever unless you activate a Twitter account and learn the ways of a savage (don’t get me wrong, I have Twitter but there is strictly no bullying on my timeline). Let me tell you something: being nice and being assertive do not oppose nor contradict each other.

Say it with me now:

Kindness and assertiveness are not antonyms.

Kindness and assertiveness are not antonyms.

Kindness and assertiveness are not antonyms.

When my kindness was being taken advantage of and all of my friends told me to lose it, a dangerous side of me began to come out. A side of me that I always witnessed on other people but never wanted to see on myself. I was quick to anger with a sharp tongue and I lacked empathy. And I didn’t even reach the worst of my potential. In fact, I would say that version of me was only functioning at 30% – it could have been a whole lot worse.

But there’s a reason Dave called London the Screwface Capital. I can’t speak for the whole of London, but in South London, black girls wear screwface like Blair Waldorf wears Chanel No.5. When people get hurt too many times, they begin to build walls around their hearts brick by brick. Their sharp tongue and angry demeanour is both a weapon and a shield readied for a battle that no one needed nor asked for. And that’s when you see people posting bare quotes on snapchat about ‘NITM 😡’ or dragging people on Twitter who were happily minding their business, sipping coffee and reading the morning newspaper only to find out they have 86 quote retweets from you man (and the depression/anger that controls your impulsive, ill-considered actions).

And speaking of that, whoever created quote retweets is an agent of the devil. The feature exists solely for the purpose of embarrassing another feeling human being who may or may not have said something completely out of line. But even if this person did say something purely ignorant, there’s better ways of educating people than publicly dragging them for clout or to fill your void. (I’m most definitely calling myself out for using this feature – not my proudest moment).

And while I’m aware that the quote retweet feature and the screwface phenomenon are not confined to black people, it’s y’all that I’m talking to. Because when a black girl or boy who doesn’t actively participate in these things comes along, we get called ‘sweetie’. And honestly, I’d rather you shoot me the dirtiest screw.

Now the fake niceties and the pet names don’t bother me that much. It’s what usually comes after, it’s the blatant disrespect. And rest assured, I will retaliate. Yes, my personality is of a nice black girl, but I speak for many nice black girls when I say this: my personality is dependant on who I am, my behaviour is dependant on who you are. See, us nice and nonchalant black girls – we don’t care if you like us or not. You can chat the most about us behind our backs and we won’t lose any sleep. But to our faces, you will respect us. And obviously, we will treat you with the same regard. But I dare you to treat us any less than the queens we are. I dare you.

See, when I would let people walk over me, my friends told me it was a niceness problem. And it wasn’t. It was an assertiveness problem (I keep wanting to say assertion instead of assertiveness but that isn’t the right word either lol anyways). I couldn’t assert myself, I was afraid of confrontation and conflict. But once I fixed that, I realised I didn’t have to sacrifice my kindness. Which was a relief to me because I really, truly didn’t want to. Being a savage Twitter girl didn’t suit me. It didn’t feel right, it didn’t look right, and God wasn’t the biggest fan of it either. Being a loving and compassionate woman with a black girl attitude and a black girl confidence is the best persona I could wear.

To nice black girls everywhere, don’t sacrifice yourself. Be kind-hearted, tender and gentle. But know your worth, and demand other people acknowledge it, too. Stop seeking validation from man. It will never fulfil you. No amount of approval man gives you will ever satisfy you. And remember: the prerequisite to ‘love thy neighbour’ is ‘love thyself’.

Live in Peace,

Kyra-Ann ईबी

 

 

 

 

GLOSSARY:

Screw – the look of contempt/disgust people from London seem to CONSTANTLY WEAR (verb)

Screwface – see above (possessive noun; someone wears or has it)

NITM – something angsty teenagers (and occasionally people way too old to be using attention seeking statements) say when they’re ‘not in the mood’

 

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