Updated: Aug 5
A big thank you to Jaimee for being the next entry of Birds of a Feather! Jaimee’s entry speaks volumes to the known expectations and stereotypes of the identity of Black women. This piece reminds me of Binyavanga Wainaina’s essay How to Write About Africa. Jaimee, thank you so much for writing this AMAZING entry, I hope y’all enjoy reading this as much as I did! ~Cheyenne
Hi everyone! My name is Jaimee and I’m a 4th year English Major. I am ecstatic for all to read my piece and for it to be featured on this amazing blog! I wrote this piece while taking a Professional Writing/Creative Writing Course and I wrote it out of anger. A fellow classmate created a poem about the diversity in his life, as well as on campus, and I could find everyone included in his story, except for myself. Being the only black person in the class, I took it upon myself to satirically share what it is like to be included in a story, of at all. I hope to create discourse around the subject of authenticity and the inclusion of characters of color. It is a prose poem but was created to be read through a spoken word tone. I hope you enjoy it!
If anybody should ever want to include such an exciting yet intense character in their story, there are a few rules and guidelines you must abide by. First, this is the most important rule so pay attention, make sure she is not outgoing but loud especially if her skin complexion is darker than a vanilla bean frappe with extra vanilla bean creamer topped with whipped cream. Under no circumstance may she be timid and or approachable because that would be unauthentic. You have to consider her background, Compton California, of course, where there is nothing but blood being shed on every corner right outside of every liquor store. With this in mind, it only makes sense for her to be loud and ghetto in this way because not only is her living environment ghetto, but she herself is ghetto as well, you know since that’s a characteristic and all. Don’t forget to make sure she looks the part too.
You must stay true to a black girl’s authentic appearance. You know, if not big box braids, then a 26’ inch Brazilian wavy weave, and if not that then, of course, you can resort to the last option of making her hair into a nappy hydrophobic Afro (even though it is infrequent to see a black girl wearing her natural hair because they hate it too much). Also, make sure that this dark-skinned female is not the main character of the story nor has as many friends as her light-skinned Belizean best friend of course because everybody knows that dark-skinned girls are mean and have an attitude. Make surest it is evident that she has no male partners in her life because, in their culture, no male likes a girl darker than them. Although, you can incorporate a few male hookups within her story because we all know every guy “experimental stage” includes banging that one cute black girl. But, enough about this angry character, let’s talk about her beautiful best friend.
Make sure her best-friend does not look anything remotely close to the previous
character. In order for the characters to be believable, the best friend is of a much lighter complexion, kind of like that vanilla bean frappe with extra vanilla bean creamer topped with whipped cream mentioned earlier. Also, make sure she has looser texture hair—curly but not too curly; in other words, not nappy. Her hair color should be the warm sandy color of the beach, with the skin to match— but preferably lighter skin. This character should be the perfect product of a white and black combination— 40% black and 60% percent white. It is most authentic for the best-friend to live with her white mother and be abandoned by her black father, which is usually the case, therefore bringing a common pain or hurt between these best-friends. Another piece of writing advice for writing about black girls is that, ultimately, it would behoove you to make the lighter skin best friend the main character of your story.
Why make her the main character? Well, it will only benefit the story for she has more of social life, guys are more interested in her, she is approachable, and lives in a nice clean neighborhood. This beautiful character is never really angered by anything; she is more of a compromiser and comforter; she takes after her mother. Make it clear that through all the pain and hurt from her father’s absence, she maturely overcomes these feelings, therefore useful for helping her angry best-friend do the same. With that being said, make sure she always comforts
her grumpy dark best friend and cheers her up because deep down inside she knows her best friend resents her and is jealous of her for being so god damn beautiful and having such nice clothes and good hair and all the guys and a nice house.
These friends must be polar opposites when you write about girls in general because we all know that girls hang around girls somewhat “lower” than them so that they can feel better about the minuscule insecurities they have. Even if the girl characters are similar in appearance and background, we all know girls can never just be happy for each other and lift each other up. Don’t make the mistake of writing an unauthentic, unbelievable, realistically unattainable story because, ultimately, nobody likes those stories. That story will never be published, trust me.