“I don’t know a single black girl who’s carefree
because it ain’t easy being a girl of color, period.
God, I wish we were carefree.
A lot of political things would have to dramatically change in this planet
for a woman of color to be carefree.”
-Cree Summer, Fusion.net Interview
I found myself binge watching the first five seasons of ABC’s Scandal on Netflix for a few weeks last month. The show had just begun airing its sixth season, and I decided to try to catch up to the new season. Listen… I love everything about Olivia Pope, minus being a homewrecker to the First Family of the United States… but you know what? She even owned up to being a mistress like a boss, eventually.
Anyways, one particular night, I was lying in bed with a bag of Trader Joe’s Tikka Masala seasoned popcorn (that stuff is seriously crack) double binging on Scandal and junk food, when the episode where Olivia tries to shoot her father comes on. Rowan finally vows to stop meddling (for better or worse) in his estranged daughter’s life, and I exhaled a spicy breath of relief for Olivia. It had to be almost 11PM, and I was finally satisfied watching one of the most stressed out fictional characters enjoy a moment of being a carefree black girl.
There’s only a couple minutes left in the episode, and I started closing my bag of popcorn. Olivia comes home from work. She’s drinking wine. She’s got Gettysburger take-out keeping warm in the oven. She has vinyls of the finest throwbacks playing in the background. Her FWB, Jake, comes over. They’re dancing. They’re about to have sex on the piano, for crying out loud! If this isn’t the carefree life, I don’t know what is! It’s nice seeing Ms. Pope unwind and just enjoy her life as it is and on her own terms. Too damn nice, says Shonda Rhimes and the rest of the team at Scandal.
Jake leaves the living room for all of thirty seconds to grab some blankets, and somehow Olivia gets kidnapped from her own apartment! From her own peace and serenity she literally almost killed for. I had to rewind three times! Our newly carefree black heroine got snatched like Naomi Campbell’s edges, dammit. Yeah, I ended up staying awake that night with my popcorn until nearly 3AM following the kidnapping storyline. Alas, I finally turned off my TV, washed the curry from the popcorn off my fingers, stretched out in my bed, and thought aloud…
Isn’t that how that s*** goes, though?!
I love the concept of being a hashtag, especially one as fun as #CarefreeBlackGirl. Unfortunately, calling myself carefree and actually being without a care are two different stories. I would love to be unbothered about 99% of the things that happen in my personal life, as well as in politics and the media. I would love to ignore stories about minority public school districts being grossly underfunded, because hell, I got my degree and don’t even like kids. I wish I could say I didn’t care about double gender standards within my family and career and just love my family or job all the same.
However, in many ways, it takes just as much, if not more, effort to ignore the injustices and nonsense going on in our lives and communities than it takes to confront those issues head-on. Being carefree isn’t as simple as wearing our hair in all of its frizzy, coily, kinky glory. It’s not about dressing outside of the 9-to-5 suit-and-tie. It’s a political choice to be carefree. Let’s be real:
You don’t just say “I’m going to wear my natural hair out to work today.”
You’re really saying “kiss my natural black ass with your prejudices and stereotypes, Corporate America.”
I respect those people who can manage to be carefree, because it’s a lot of work to be that kind of political and genuinely not care what our society thinks of you. I’ll wear my natural hair to work and tell Corporate America to kiss my ass with all of its latent racism disguised as dress codes all I want. But at 25 years old, I still get upset that someone can call my curly ‘fro “ungroomed and unprofessional” when that’s just the way the hair naturally grows from my scalp. My feelings get hurt and I get angry about things like that all. the. time.
It doesn’t help that we live in a world that expects us as women, black women to be exact, to care. And the minute we stop caring about one issue, we get bombarded with a host of new issues to confront. Or we keep being pestered with the same issue in different ways until we’re forced to fix the problem or become a part of it. Olivia Pope found out in season four of Scandal: every time we allow ourselves that moment of vulnerability to care less and live more, our whole existence comes under attack.
The struggle to be carefree is real!