by Shanay Watson-Whittaker
Crossposted from www.lafemmenegrita.com
All of us are basking in the beautiful glow of the ebony-hued Kenyan sistah, Lupita Nyong’o. She acted her butt off as “Patsey” in “12 Years a Slave.” Every Hollywood outlet is featuring this beautiful sistah because of her devastating beauty, her style, and her intelligence. This Ivy League graduate’s beauty is the antithesis of what we see in rap videos, reality television and the TV characters we adore (Kerry Washington’s “Olivia Pope” and Gabrielle Union’s “Mary Jane”)
Lupita has the perfect opportunity to take on roles that do not feature Black women as side-chicks. Yes, I said it. She has Hollywood in the palm of her hands and she can pick and choose any role she wants. She has something that so many Black actresses and Black women don’t have and that’s POWER!
She doesn’t have to play the side-chick. She doesn’t have to portray herself as the second fiddle, an intellectual jezebel, or a married man’s choice between his sexual desires and his morality. Lupita does not have to portray a character that sits and waits by the phone for her secret boyfriend’s call. I don’t knock Olivia Pope or Mary Jane. In fact, I am a Scandal fanatic but I think their characters validate a role many real Black women live in their everyday lives.
Many of us have or had to man-share because the man we lusted or loved said the right words or did the right things to make us stay and degrade ourselves. We sacrificed our hearts, our time and our bodies for a fantasy that never came true.
But being a side-chick isn’t exclusive to an intimate relationship. You can be a side-chick in the workplace too! If you work hard to make your team better but do not get credit for your work and sit in silence, you are essentially a side-chick. If you put your family first by sacrificing your self-worth and self-esteem, you’re essentially a side-chick. If you do not put yourself FIRST, you are a side-chick.
I have a call to action. First, love yourself enough not to accept second best. You are a QUEEN who deserves nothing but the best from the people around you and if the people around you don’t agree with you, leave them alone – surround yourself with other queens. Second, exploit your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Once you spend 10,000 hours on something you are good at, you’re considered an expert. Third, find “me time.” Our lives are so busy and complicated that we forget to carve out time for ourselves. Finally, when people ask you to describe yourself, call yourself what you are, a QUEEN!
Shanay Watson-Whittaker is a Democratic activist and organizer. She was the former Chair of the Young Democrats of America Minority Caucus. Shanay is the owner of an Ebay store called Shay’s Chic Boutique, she is a motivational speaker, a blogger at La Femme Negrita and a genealogy enthusiast. She lives in Detroit, MI with her husband, Ken and their six kids. You can follow Shanay on Twitter as LaFemme_Negrita and you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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