Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Carefree Black Girl & Princess Tiana's

I am supremely interested in the concept of the Carefree Black Girl. 

I am not sure where the term originated  from but I believe it’s an important one that illuminates on the greatness of managing to exist as a Black girl and simultaneously happy, self-secure, and with a real sense of freedom.

I usually see the term applied to celebrities such as Lisa Bonet, Willow Smith, and Solange Knowles. Of course, what all of these women have in common is immense class privilege. It begs the question of whether or not “carefree” as it is commonly used is in actuality a euphemism for upper middle class.

The truth is that a lot of Black girls are Tiana’s. We’re like the main character of Princess and the Frog and our lives are seemingly incongruent with the idea of the Carefree Black Girl.

We are aware that we must work for what we want and so we keep our heads down and do what it takes to succeed. We are ever practical. We do not expect random acts of kindness or good luck. And we find happiness in having a sense of purpose that can be realized through hard work and determination. We are low income. We are first generation college students. We are working nine to fives. We are mothers. We are sisters and daughters. We are strong and we are tired.

And we look at the Carefree Black Girl persona and scoff. Because after all, it’s easy for somebody with a minimal sense of responsibility to espouse the virtues of being carefree.

But I want to challenge the dominant understanding of the Carefree Black Girl. I in fact believe there is an even more pure sense of the term to be found when we look at the everyday lives of average Black women. 

Tiana’s can be carefree too.

Being carefree is daring to not limit oneself to the parameters set by racism, sexism, or classism. It is choosing to champion vulnerability all while living an already precarious existence. It is being willing to take risks. It is found in a sense of optimism.

The next time somebody tells me that I ought to be more carefree and cites my tendency to work and stay busy as proof that I am the antithesis of the Carefree Black Girl I will remind them that being carefree is a life outlook more so than a collection of individual actions and choices.

We can believe we are free even with small bank accounts. We can believe in our own personal subjectivity even without the tools and privileges to force others to accept and reconcile with that subjectivity.

Our understanding of the Carefree Black Girl must include low income Black girls. The only route to freedom is not through financial stability or convenient circumstances. It must include the Tiana’s. It has to include me!


  1. I enjoyed this post very much. It brought up a term I did not know was in use with black women, and a reinterpretation that was equally intriguing.

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