The Life Of A Dangerous Black Girl-Lie #1: You Are Too Much

The most vicious lie you can tell a Black girl is that she is ‘too much.’

In the 39 years I have been on the planet, I have neither been explained what exactly is the criteria for being ‘too much’, nor have I been advised that being a good thing! So, what is too much? What does to mean to be ‘too much’? But there is a criteria to this! There is a reason that the world loves to call a girl they cannot deal with, who does not conform, a problem. She is a problem, because there is no archetype to the type of woman that she is. Rather than look at the gift that is femininity and ambition, it is the former that is seen the thing that is the aberration. The thing, this entity inside of her that must be stomped out, questioned, ignored or erased on every hand! 

We know the memes and quotes about the ‘quieting women.’ But there is a quote that I hold close to my chest about this idea of being ‘too much.’ The quote goes like this: “Black women will always be too loud for world that never intended to hear them.” We will always be too loud. Too vocal. Too angry. Too quiet. Too smart. Too…Black. We will always be too much. Yet, we go on anyway don’t we? Yet, there is something about this ‘too much.’ There is this indignity that comes with being called this, being classified as this. There are different types of scarlet letters–this I have seen myself. Black women are pushed into cookie cutter molds that cut pieces of us away! We are constantly pushed into these molds which are neither designed by us, or designed for us. Erasure is habit for Black women and girls! It has become easier to tell a girl what she is not, rather than confirm what she is!

What is she?

Can she not be both Black and ambitious?

Black and aware of her Blackness?

Can she not be what she determines outside of the gaze of an unaware public?

It is easier to assign ‘too much’ to a woman that you have no idea how to handle. This is a stigma, a warning to any other less-than man that wanted to be with her—but has no idea what that means? Too much as a woman, means there will be/are a certain type of man that will believe by the justification of his sex–and the superiority that only a phallus can grant–that you should accommodate this inadequacies with the lessening of yourself! And they become indignant when you do not, will not, shall never diminish for their comfort? As Eartha Kitt said, “Compromise? Compromise for what? Respect has to be earned!” Cersei Lannister said you have to earn a Queen–and she will always be whom she is. If you cannot chase her, if she dismisses you because you were not enough–admit that! A woman will always be ‘too much’ for a man that never intended on being enough for her.

Women whom are ‘too much’ change the world–because the world wouldn’t change for them.

Revolutionary Warfare: Remembering Toni Morrison

“Don’t die with your dream in you.” -My mama, Bessie

I first met Toni Morrison in my Sophomore Spanish I class. There was this girl who sat behind me, Lolita (No lie, that was her name!), and she was reading this book with a purple cover. I asked her what she was reading. With all the Black girl swag she could muster, she said, “The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.”

I am ashamed to say that I had no idea who she was. I knew who Maya Angelou was, but had no idea who Toni Morrison was. I remember asking her to see the book. She obliged and let me read the back. I purposed in my mind that I was going to read this book. I was going to find out who Pecola Breedlove was.

From then, it was on.

My ears were keen to pick up on anything that Toni was doing, anything that she read, recommended or spoke on. So, when Pieces I Am debuted in May 2019, I purposed to watch it. Through other demands, I wasn’t able to see it in theaters. When she died 5 month later? I felt like my grandmother had died…all over again. It was on August 3-4, that I was able to have time and space to watch it. And I am glad that I did.

When I saw her face, heard her voice, I cried–and the film was only 5 minutes in. In hearing her, hearing her story and journey (even thought I was familiar with her voice and story), I cried. It was an affirmation, a coming home as Black, woman and writer. It reminded me that I was always a writer–a storyteller, and the footsteps I follow in are not new…but worn.

As I finished by undergrad at UM-St. Louis, I took ENGL 3870: American Literature After 1865 (Shouts to my mentor, Dr. Kimberly Welch!). This class–I am ever grateful for. Not just because I got to meet Dr. Welch (the first Black English professor I had at UM-St. Louis), but the first book we read for class was, Beloved. It took everything in me not to shout like the little Black Baptist girl in me wanted to! I was studying my shero. I was studying a woman that I had admired since I was 15. Whose books and words and imagination told me, showed me, the possibility of language.

Just like Nikki Giovanni does…still (Have you read EGO TRIP by Nikki?! You need to. Go do that now!).

And to study Beloved right after she died, with Dr. Welch telling me to go to grad school, with listening to her voice on film–it was a hug. It was that nudge that all writers have (I believe) when they are on the precipice of something great–to keep going.

The tears came.

The sobs racked me.

The grief shook me.

I gave over to the power this gift has, and purposed to never hide it again. Afterall, if you surrender to the air, you can ride it. That’s what Toni said.