Growing Up a Black Girl: On Growing Up with Working Mothers

This piece was written by Destinee Swindell.  Destinee is a New York based event curator and avid traveler.  You can follow her journey at chasingdestinee.com and on Instagram @ChasingDestinee. 

 Image courtesy of GIPHY

Image courtesy of GIPHY

Growing a up a Black girl meant never telling other kids my middle name is Chardonay to avoid jokes.

Growing up a Black girl meant never being a latchkey kid because my grandma lived with me and my mom in true village (and Obama) fashion.

Growing up a Black girl meant shaking my head until dizzy just to hear the sound of my beads.

Growing up a Black girl meant playing with my dolls under my mom's desk while she pursued higher education. I still remember the excitement of seeing her graduate.

Growing up a Black girl meant switching off taking beatings for cousins that are more like siblings.

Growing up a Black girl meant Susie was automatically my favorite Rugrat (even though she really was the best one).

Growing up a Black girl meant doing school projects in the wee hours of the morning because my mom got off work at midnight.

Growing up a Black girl meant intensely seeking out other Black girls when I transferred to my hometown's gifted school in fifth grade and became part of the minority.

Growing up a Black girl meant quality time in the form of my mom and I laying in bed reading Beverly Jenkins' novels.  The young adult ones for me, of course. 

Growing up a Black girl meant fighting over who was Monica during 'The Boy Is Mine' performances and having choreography to 'Where My Girls At?' by 702.

Growing up a Black girl meant stopping at Wal-Mart for Seabreeze on the way home after hours at our braider's house.

Growing up a Black girl meant my grandma always telling me not to stay outside in the sun too long so I don't get black.

Growing up a Black girl meant having an alternative dress code at school because of my curves. *rolls eyes*

Growing up a Black girl meant that my intelligence was always being celebrated by my peers as opposed to being ridiculed like in the movies.

Growing up a Black girl meant putting on full concerts with my cousins singing into fans in the summertime.

Growing up a Black girl meant getting kicked out of class for an "insensitivity to the Holocaust" while reading Night.  It meant my mother informing the teacher that at a 70% black school, the kids are sensitive to the Middle Passage and would likely find that topic more engaging.

Growing up a Black girl meant knowing from a young age that the standard was different for me but that not only was I was more than capable of exceeding it, I was expected to do so.

Toi Bly