How would you define your "fly"? If asked, how would you answer? Not just as a woman, but also as a teen girl, a young chick navigating her way through worlds where media narratives dictate what beauty is and isn’t, decide what works and doesn’t, create and determine who’s in or not. Funk that.
So, I imagined a different reality – one where girls ID their own fly – they see and say what their beauty, brilliance, power, smartness is and then they turn to their girl and shine a light on hers too. Essentially they create their very own ‘Diary of Fly’ as part of a very special day, their day – INTERNATIONAL FLYGIRLS Day.
Why? So girls can learn while they are young that they have personal power. Struggle has been the Black women’s lover for too long, so we have to invest in emotional justice. That means creating a process, a path that transforms trauma into triumph and builds sisterhood from places of power, not pain. Nobody aspires to be whack, and right now via some elements of ratchet reality tv, the sheer profit from meanness, the swagger it has – all that makes sisterhood harder. What if we created space to make sisterhood delicious and self-determined? Imagine. A day, a campaign, a movement aimed at, designed for, all about girls, teens, young women, all women. That is what International FlyGirls Day is. And it launches Season 4’s live ‘Emotional Justice Unplugged’, the annual, multi-media, multi-generational arts and conversation series.
It’s way past time to move beyond the single stories and stereotypes that have traveled through history from the Hottentot Venus all the way to a Tweet from The Onion that reduced an Oscar nominated 9 year old little black girl into one sexual word provoking a siege of strange defenders spouting nonsense about comedy and the First Amendment, and an army of enraged Tweeters demanding action, apology, retraction. Writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie takes on the danger of these single stories. She says: ”How stories are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power. There is danger in a single story. The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”
This revolving door of response & reaction to the regular casual hurt filled hate directed at black women is exhausting, let’s also create spaces for girls that identify our fly – our power, beauty, brilliance, smartness. Joan Morgan, cultural critic, critically acclaimed author and currently visiting artist at Stanford University talks about creating a ‘politics of pleasure’, and the brilliant public intellectual Dr. Brittney Cooper says there can be no ‘justice without pleasure’. That’s what we’ll do with International FlyGirls Day; find pleasure in girls’ discovering their own power.
So, who’s already down with IntlFLYGIRLSDay? Ballerina Misty Copeland. In her ‘Diary of Fly’, she wrote: "I find power deep within that comes out as the beauty in my arms, that are soft extensions of me. My skin color may make me appear to be alone in a world of swans who do not resemble me, but my beauty, power, strength and intelligence draw incredible mentors to me, and that is so fly." Also down and hitting the Tweets in support is Sudanese Supermodel & Brooklyn dweller Alek Wek. Brothers are down too; including award winning film-maker Byron Hurt and public intellectual, cultural critic, writer and author Professor Mark Anthony Neal.
International FlyGirlsDay is more than a moment, it’s part of the emotional justice movement. It’s a campaign of continued flyness where girls and young women relish themselves and each other. Starting this year – we carve out time, space, dedicate energy to discovering the fly in our girls, young women, all women. So, you down? It kicks off March 9th, 12.30pm, Brooklyn’s Mott Hall Bridges Academy as part of their annual ‘She Is Me’ inter-generational, free event courtesy of fly principal, Nadia Lopez . There will be e a panel:‘The Swagger of Mean’ before we move to DIARY of FLY. And that’s what International FlyGirls Day is all about – DIARY of FLY- in journals, on Twitter, on Facebook.
For info on ‘She Is Me’ the annual luncheon at Mott Hall Bridges Academy led by principal NADIA LOPEZ, http://www.yasmag.com/YAS_MAG/Fly_Girls_Day.html.
Learn more about Esther Armah and The Emotional Justice movement at www.facebook.com/emotionaljustice. Twitter: @estherarmah