Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 11.50.58 AMSheryl Sandberg has started a campaign that seeks to ban the word “bossy” because she believes such words contribute to young girls feeling bad about being assertive. Sandberg may have good intentions here, but it seems that rather than banning certain words, encouraging the use of other words might be the better route.  In the spirit of using affirmative strategies to create positive change, here are five words we should be using more often to describe our young ladies.

1. Creative
Too often, especially for young black girls, respectability politics rears its ugly head and relegates our girls to tiny little boxes. They can only wear their hair a certain way, they must pursue only these three courses of study in college, they can not express opinions on certain topics. We should encourage our girls to nurture and express their creativity.  They need to get the message that their unique identities and ideas are appreciated and wanted in the world.

2. Compassionate
Women and girls are stereotyped as being too emotional and incapable of making rational, logical decisions. But the fact is that being compassionate, having the ability to be empathetic and truly understand someone else’s position, is a powerful place to be. It’s not weak to be compassionate, it’s smart and leads to better-informed decision making.

3. Cultured
If she knows the words to a 2Chainz song that doesn’t make her “ghetto.” If she knows the words to a Taylor Swift song that doesn’t mean she’s trying to be “white.” If she likes to visit museums on the weekends, that doesn’t make her a “nerd.”  Sometimes our girls are afraid to express their interests for fear that they will be labeled in a negative or constrictive way. We must let them know that it’s fine and even encouraged to explore all types of different cultures and that includes food, music, travel, dance and all of the other things that make a culture unique.

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  • Yes to the word creative.

  • G

    Yes, to all of the above words.

    To often we Black women are mad the whipping girl of the world.

    If we stand up for ourselves, we are _____________
    (fill in the black with any combination of the following words)

    bossy
    bully
    pushy
    loud
    aggressive
    combative
    ghetto (this word can be used to “enhance” any of the above words to denote Blackness. Being an adjective and a noun) . . . (GLING!!!! as I use my radio sound effects box)

    But I digress, what is wrong with the word “bossy” any way? If a man is “bossy”, he is in command! An if he is a jerk, the proper excuse will be made . . . “he’s having a bad day. You know his sales are down!” If a woman is “bossy” she is masculine, bitchy and mean! “That B must be on the rag! Oh, then she must be on the rag every day!”

    I say run the risk, we should stand up for ourselves an be ________________ (fill in the black with any combination of the following words)

    creative
    beautiful
    loved
    intelligent
    cultured

    And any other wonderful word, you can think of.

  • I LOVE the use of the words compassionate and cultured. This is great!

  • Meme

    2 Chainz isn’t ghetto-that’s more hood. j/k I get what you’re saying. Everyone should worry less about other and worry about themselves.