Most of us can pinpoint a moment in life where we felt like a carefree black girl, but if we’re being honest, it was just that, a moment. And, truthfully, we most likely only felt carefree because we made a choice to feel that way in spite of — in spite of racism, in spite of sexism, in spite of misogyny, in spite of Eurocentric beauty standards, in spite of various microaggressions. But at the end of the day, for most of us the notion of a “carefree black girl” is nothing more than an intriguing paradox.
Cree Summer, the actress whose name has become synonymous with this ideal, just blew the lid off of this mythical state of being in an interview with Fusion in which she discussed the impact her A Different World character Freddie had in the ’90s and still has today. Explaining how she and the new-age women like Zoe Kravitz (her goddaughter), Willow Smith, and Amandla Stenberg, who have all declared her their role model, have come to personify the image of the carefree black girl, Summer was asked how she feels about the term and she said this.
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. But I think what they mean by that is more of an aware black girl, a conscious black girl. The more conscious you are, maybe the less cares you have and maybe the more cares you have as well—it kind of goes hand in hand. Self-awareness and more self-love and also the ability to care for other black women. It has something to do with being politically aware of where you stand on this planet and I think it has to do with not accepting the definition that’s been given to you by designing yourself. I’ve always been a loud mouth that way. I’ve always been proud to be different, I’ve always stood out like a sore thumb and I always have not given a damn.
And that is why Cree Summer has always been loved.
And she’s right about the dichotomy that exists between knowing more and caring less. For instance, when you know why only one type of beauty has been declared acceptable, the less you care about being accepted in those spaces that believe as such. On the other hand, when you understand the dangers perpetuating such cycles presents, the more difficult it becomes to stand by idly and let them continue. However, just because we’re not in a place where being a carefree black girl is a reality all of the time doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still strive to make it so. After all, the idea of a carefree black girl may be a myth, but racial fatigue is real. We owe it to ourselves to have as many carefree moments as we can while still striving to make the world a better place for us. At some point, being carefree might become less of a random occurrence for us and a more of a permanent state of existence.