The Double Standard of the "Carefree Black Girl/Boy" Aesthetic

[Image: A comparison of black women. Two black women singing and smiling with the letter "A" under them. Nicki Minaj and Beyonce pictured next to them from the music video for "Feeling Myself" with the letter "B" under them.]
Photo From: Niyah Brooks
Article by: Tyler Taylor

If you scroll down your Twitter timeline, you’ll be happily surprised to see pictures of black people in colorful flower crowns, flourishing afros, and with shining smiles plastered on their faces.
[Image: Five black girls in front of a brick wall smiling and leaning on each other. The girls are wearing colorful clothing and have afros, braids, and straight hair.]
The “Carefree Black Girl/Boy” aesthetic has made and continues to make its way across social media platforms and has been met with joy and admiration. The movement has allowed black girls and boys of all shades and sizes to begin to love who they are and unapologetically be themselves! It has helped black men come to the realization that they are allowed to be indulge in what society has deemed too feminine or emasculating, and that they do not have to succumb to the standards of toxic masculinity that the black community has created for them. While this movement of radical softness has been greatly progressive, it also exposes the double standard we hold. Across the world, black people from “the hood” are called “ratchet” and “ghetto” because of how loud they talk, their vernacular, and how they dress. The way they choose to present themselves inevitably subjects them to criticism and their identity becomes either a joke or something to be ashamed of.

We are taught to keep our thoughts and opinions to ourselves and to contain our emotions because if not, we could be called “ghetto” or “ratchet”. Being called these terms is incredibly damaging due to the negative connotations these words hold. The roots of these words correlate to blackness heavily and are used by non black people to portray that the state something is in is bad. This sparks the question, “Well, what’s so wrong with being black? Isn’t being unapologetically black something that you want?” The answer is yes, but reaching that point isn’t helped by being called these words. Being unapologetically black means praising the good and beautiful qualities that are a part of black culture. As mentioned before, these words aren’t meant to be compliments; they are meant to make people feel bad about how they’re conducting themselves. They’re being too loud, too rambunctious, too ghetto. In other words, these kinds of black people don’t care about what others are thinking about them because they are essentially Carefree.

So why is it that we as a society condemn those who choose to be loud but praise those who are choosing to be soft and quiet? It is because to be associated with being black is a bad thing whilst behaving how our white counterparts have been behaving is seen as acceptable and admirable. Black identity is going through changes right now and steadily we are being steered away from our other brothers and sisters who are unapologetically black in their own ways. In essence, ghetto and carefree share the same core meaning. The only problem is that one is used to uplift black people of a certain aesthetic while the other is used to dehumanize. Black people should not have to conform to one standard in order to be accepted. Let ALL kinds of carefree black people exist peacefully.

Opposite Identities: a Poem
I am black
I am South Central Los Angeles
I am boarded up homes of children
Who do not know their fathers
I am gun shots
Or fireworks if I am a child
Even though 4th of July was two months ago
I am not going outside for fear of my life if I wear the primary colors that make purple
I am long acrylic nails with rhinestones brighter than the low riders cruising down the street
I am golden
Bamboo earrings and rings down each finger
I am weaves, cornrows, box braids
But never boxer braids
I am overlined lips and clear gloss
I am sagging pants and durags
I am the beauty supply store and the barbershop
I am the liquor store run by the man who isn't welcome in this neighborhood
But takes the heat anyways
I am the swap meet where young girls with nothing can feel like they're something
I am off-brand
I am loud voices
I am unwanted opinions
I am the ghetto
I am Ghetto

I am black
I am Santa Monica
I am the beach at seven a.m.I am hair so straight that I start to believe I could fit in until
I am track showing
I am edges unlaid
I am grateful these white people don't know what black hair should look like
I am coffee and brunch
I am bike rides and surfing
I am daisy dukes and bikini tops
I am board shorts and flip flops
I am beach waves and blonde hair
That I cannot achieve
I am pastel pink and light mint
I am family vacations
I am sticking out
I am microaggressions
I am white people saying the N-Word
I am smiling like it's just a word
I am being looked at when we discuss slavery
I am being told to get over it
I am feeling like the angry black girl
I am quiet
I am smiling blue eyes and white faces
I am the beach
I am Carefree

We are black
We are black no matter how you describe us
We are both ghetto and carefree
And we are unapologetically