It seems like every other day we hear about what people love or loathe about black women. From our curves and our cooking skills, to our hair and the fact that we’re either supreme go-getters or too independent, black women seem to always be up for debate.

I mean, I get it. We’re as varied as the colors of the rainbow and as unique as the fingerprints on our hand, and still, we get lumped together for better or worse. But there’s one thing we no longer need or want: your approval.

For too long black folks, and especially black women, have been trapped in the black box. That constricting space that says anything outside of it is weird or quirky or awkward. Thankfully, many of us have embraced our inner eccentricity, choosing to no longer live our lives by their rules.

We create, we love, we work, we live, we travel, and we move on our terms.

And while we appreciate the love, we aren’t swayed by it because we know that just around the corner lays the criticism.

I mean for every man who loves our “sassy” ways, another takes a swipe at our attitudes. And for every dude who loves to run his hands through some 12” Remi, another scoffs at chicks with weave (or box braids or naturals or TWAs). Who cares? It’s your hair; do what you like.

And while the media finds every little thing to nit pick about black women, while throwing us meager representations of ourselves onscreen, we know better. We know our value and worth isn’t tied up in what they think we want to see, but in what we create.

So while the world continues to wonder about our dating habits, the width of our hips, and why we see things the way we do, we’ll keep on creating and supporting our sisters who show love. To jack Biggie, it’s the black girl way.

So shout out to all the Clutchettes who know exactly who they are. Who dress themselves up and paint their hair or lips or nothing at all because they want to and not because of what he thinks.

Shout out to the sisters who are scientists and cops and painters and pharmacists and models and athletes and students and business owners and writers and filmmakers and mothers and daughters and wives and lovers, and, most of all, friends.

Shout out to all of you who know who you are is enough, whether the world recognizes it or not.

We see you shining.  

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