In a way, I’m jealous of the teens of today. It’s not the type of jealousy that’ll make put on your freakum fit and go to ex’s favorite hangout spot because you heard they have a new boo. Or what you felt when you barely missed being in someone’s Top 8 on ye olde MySpace. No, no. None of that. The jealousy I feel has more to do with what today’s kids are allowed to feel, be, and express. Actually, it may not be jealousy at all. It’s just me regretting the fear I possessed in my youth.
Pure honesty, the ability to make certain decisions for myself, and sexuality weren’t allowed in my household at any age. Even now, I bite my tongue, I allow my family to find out conclusions I’ve come to articles or posts, and when they are near, I scroll on my phone as sex scenes are plastered on TV. I was constantly afraid to tell my loved ones about crushes, heartbreak, and college plans. The trepidation has been so ubiquitous that there have been times I relied on just as clueless friends to guide me through experiences that a loving, older person should’ve been notified of. That is, if I said anything at all. As I look at my younger siblings and the people their age, I see that this is not their reality. They are infinitely more free in their potential to be true, and although there is criticism, they are also applauded for the leaps and bounds they have made.
Summer Walker’s name popped up on my timeline multiple times this year. Once certain friends of mine started big upping her self-written ballads, I knew it was time to take a listen. Coming across “Session 32”, an all-too-brief breeze through of a finished relationship and the self-reflection that comes with it, was the highlight of my day. I played it over and over again, taking breaks from work to seductively dance around my living space. It was easy to feel the words and the emotions that stood behind them.
Walker’s biggest hit so far is “Girls Need Love”. The track, accompanied by a “Blow”-like music video that has over 14 million views, states what many women, especially Black women, know to be true.
“Girls can’t never say they want it
Girls can’t never say how
Girls can’t never say they need it
Girls can’t never say now”
We haven’t always been allowed to say that we want love or sex, (and then stand behind our words) and we for damn sure haven’t been able to dictate how that love is administered. Even beyond the diameter of romantic endeavors, we have been limited in our expression, spiritual experimentation, choices, and interests. Black girls have had to settle for descriptors that are only adjacent to who we actually are, boxes, and unfair situationships. But young women, like Summer Walker, Willow Smith, and Rico Nasty, are not only not settling for the crap, they’re fearlessly making known their needs, desires, and lifestyle choices.
“We haven’t always been allowed to say that we want love or sex, (and then stand behind our words) and we for damn sure haven’t been able to dictate how that love is administered.”
Though Walker is not a teenager (‘1996’ is dauntlessly tattooed on her neck), she’s making it to where women her age and younger no longer have to sit through the same annoyances and obstacles that their foremothers did. Starting conversations about who we are and what we want is a vital part of womanhood, and it is a real treat to see it happening younger and younger. I wish I could have been so sure of myself at 22. I wish I did not have the limitations and demure attitude that today’s stars are erasing. I wish I had someone like Summer Walker to assure me that I wasn’t wrong. But alas, it’s okay. My jealousy-turned-understanding has now become happiness. I rest well with the knowledge that my Black little sisters all over the world are much more free to be.
Stream Summer Walker’s “Last Day of Summer” below.