Winning Essay by Kayla S. from Missouri attending DePauw University

Winning Essay by Kayla S. from Missouri attending DePauw University

“Was already weary. Was already heavy-hearted. Was already tired. Where can we be safe? Where can we be free? Where can we be black?” roars Solange Knowles. She may be popularly known as Beyoncé’s baby sister, but is so much more; she is a strong black woman with a soul of truth, for this statement tells the story of every African American. We may have roots from America, Africa, and Europe but we can never truly belong to any. None have ever truly accepted us because we are too American to be from Africa and too black to be from Europe; and other Americans are too prejudiced to accept us. We have no home, and Solange puts into words what we blacks have all known and felt to be true. Where was this place where we could be safe and black? Where was this place where we could be free from police brutality and hate crimes? When would our weariness end? Essentially, Solange is inspirational for telling the story that makes us black people one, but that’s not all.

When Solange did the big chop to become natural, she changed my life. For a long time, my mom relaxed my hair so that my hair would be “civilized” and acceptable to society, but I was tired of my hair being thin and unhealthy. Consequently, I decided to big chop my hair to embrace the hair God gave me like Solange. Society has always told us black girls that our naps were ugly, but society’s opinion should not define how we view ourselves. Solange asserts, “Any decision I make is based on myself, and the only person I have to give an explanation to is God,” and she is right because if we black girls want to wear our naturally kinky hair without the pressures of weaves, flat irons, and relaxers, we can, and still be beautiful. We don’t have to explain our actions to anyone because we don’t owe it to them. Our nappy hair is between us and God. 

Solange has not only been a hair inspiration to us blacks, but she has also uplifted us through her courageous new album, A Seat at the Table. I cannot recall one artist that hits home for blacks like she does in this album. In each song she tells of the struggles of blacks — the truth that so many of us are afraid to tell for fear that we will come off as “the angry black woman” or as being overly sensitive. In her song “Cranes in the Sky” she sings, “I tried to keep myself busy. I ran around in circles. Think I made myself dizzy. I slept it away, I sexed it away, I read it away” to describe our coping mechanisms to racism, poverty, and other ways that the system sets us up to fail. Ultimately, she reminds us blacks to let our troubles be known so that non-blacks are not blind to our story.



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