One thing I really enjoy about Beyond Black and White is that it’s a safe space for black women who do not fit the norm. As we’ve witnessed in recent weeks, the black community continues to have a sore spot for its little crabs that have made their way out of the barrel, despite all of the snapping at their heels. I think we’ve all gotten used to it by now. We have gone so far off the reservation that it makes other people too uncomfortable to receive us without questioning the quality of their own lives; and they in turn snap at us as if we’ve made bad decisions.
But there is another group of women out there; an albeit small group, I would assume. Nonetheless, there are women out there who have in fact grasped for themselves the ideal in black status progression. They are slender and in shape, they are beautiful, they are educated and intelligent, childless if they are single, or married to black men of their dreams. These women have beaten what can only be considered the real life Kobayashi Maru. They have paved for themselves extraordinary lives while remaining engrained in the black community and are not worst for wear.
Two such women that are always on my radar are Nikki from CurlyNikki.com, and Nina Ellis-Hervey, known as BeautifulBrwnBabyDol. These women live lives that are nothing short of the American dream, and have still managed to “keep it real” in a fashion to which most black people can cosign. They are successful and happy, and live by no else’s agenda but their own. While they may not be into interracial dating, they are definitely exemplary women and excellent role models for black women wanting to live the good life.
Nikki is a tall and naturally slender beauty with one of the hugest and most gorgeous heads of hair I’ve ever seen. She has turned her most striking feature into an easily recognizable and extremely lucrative brand. Personally, I think we should all want to be Nikki when we grow up. When she’s not at her day job as a licensed therapist, she is at the hottest social events and interviewing our favorite curly haired celebrities for her blog, CurlyNikki.com. On top of that she is a wife and mother to sassy and hilarious 2-year-old Gia, also known as Boogie.
While I do enjoy the hair care aspect of Nikki’s site, I honestly am more enthralled by her amazing family life. She seems to be extremely close with her parents, who are still married; and her mother looks like a silver maned version of Phylicia Rashad. She married her college sweetheart, who is black, and then had their beautiful daughter; love, marriage, baby carriage, just as it should be. I personally go to CurlyNikki.com mostly to catch up on my Gia chronicles. That kid is a trip and a half.
Nikki is a prime example that some women have absolutely no problem finding the upstanding black men they desire. A star in her own right, she has not over shone, nor is she made to feel like she has over shone her husband who received his Ph.D earlier this year; before the age of 30 I might add. On her Facebook fan page, Nikki posted a photo of little Gia snoozing in her car seat with her arms crossed above her head. Something that she supposedly learned from her father, and Nikki captioned the photo, “talk about nature over nurture.”
Not much is known about Mr. Nikki, but it is quite clear to see that on top of his academic (and I would also assume career) success, he is a man who loves his wife and loves his child. He is the type of man that women should aspire to have as their partner, not because of the color of his skin, but for his exemplary character.
BeautifulBrwnBabyDol is currently taking the world by storm, and is quickly becoming a nationally known name. Recently she was featured in People magazine and celebrity news shows like Extra and Inside Edition for sharing the story of her 100-pound weight loss. The petite power house at just 5’4″ lost 100lbs, going from 235lbs to 135lbs, and has kept the weight off six years.
On her extremely popular Youtube channel she talks in depth about her weight loss and maintenance and how her life has changed as she changed herself. She also chronicles the journey of her beautiful back length natural hair. If that wasn’t enough, this Jackie of all trades continues to pile accolades onto her name.
Her full title is Dr. Nina Ellis-Hervey; having received her Ph.D at the age of 27, she is a professor at a Texas college that occasionally gets reprimanded when people think she’s a student parking in faculty spaces. She is a motivational speaker, frequenter of the natural hair convention circuit, and entrepreneur with her own line of hair products.
Not ashamed of her roots, Nina prides herself on being from the hood. She uses her background to relate to people while using her extensive education and intellectualism to deliver her message and give people the information they need to know. Instead of calling herself afro centric, she says that she is more of an “earthy, afro chic, hippie.”
I’ve followed her BeautifulBrwnBabyDol channel for many years, but some of her more recent videos have really struck me. The first video, called “You’re Dying…BUT…Your Hair Looks Amazing!” discusses how black women tend to favor the condition of their hair over the condition their health and bodies (a precursor to the Gabby Douglas issue, which she also addresses). The second video, called “HELP, My Ovaries Are Drying Up!!!” discusses a date Nina had gone on during which the man told her that she “needed to hurry up and have kids before her ovaries dried up.” Her message in this video was that she refuses to bring children into this world without being able to provide them the stable life of a two parent home, and that in the mean while she has no qualms about being selfish toward her own betterment and continuing to reach her goals.
These videos made me realize that the idea of black women’s empowerment is definitely multifaceted. While the term may be controversial, I find Nina is a prime example that black women can urge other black women to want and achieve the best for themselves and not be connected to the interest of interracial dating.
Nina is single and dating. While I am not explicitly sure if she has a racial preference when it comes to men, she often posts photos of celebrities of all races that she finds attractive on her Facebook fan page. On a whole she tends to focus less on race in her message and more on character. From what I can gather, it’s the same standard that she upholds for the men in her own life. After rebuilding her life from the ground up, she is definitely not interested in having a man that wants to bring her down and hinder her progress.
On her Facebook fan page, she posted an image that I found extremely haunting. It was of two crabs in a barrel and the crab climbing out was caught by the leg by the crab still in the barrel. It was captioned, “Oh no you don’t Missy. You get back down here with the rest of us where you belong.”
Until I saw this image, I’d only heard of the crabs in a barrel metaphor at Beyond Black and White and similar sites. But Nina also often talks about people telling her that her weight loss is “not that special,” and that she thinks she’s “too good” now because she has an extensive education; touching on the same topics that are on regular rotation here at BB&W.
It just goes to show that idea of black women living good lives for themselves and encouraging others to do the same does in fact go beyond black and white. It is not as simple as us vs. them; GAT-DL, DBR and apologists, ‘Blackistan’ and ‘Trolledelphia.’ The personalities of black women are as varied as our looks and I feel it important for us to seek out not only like minded individuals in the interracial realm but also those in other realms of betterment for black women.
We don’t all have to be attracted to certain types of men in order to get it. ‘It’ being that black women deserve the very best of what life has to offer. We deserve to have the will to take care of our bodies and be healthy. We deserve to pursue the very extent of our education and be ridiculously successful. We deserve to be someone’s misses. We deserve to have the same last name as our children, and our children’s father. We deserve to have a reason to smile when we wake up in the morning. We deserve to be at peace. We deserve the right to always want more and better. We deserve to be happy.
Moreso, we deserve to have our individual traits, tastes, likes and dislikes, and remain able to find a middle ground of interest in our own positive development.