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Twenty-two years ago I met a friend for life; one of the most sincere, supportive, and loving people you’ll ever meet. Seven years later, my dear friend had a daughter. Her name is J’dah Thibeaux. And like her mother, she is amazing. J’dah is by far one of the most intriguing fifteen year old tenth grade girls I’ve ever come across. She’s smart, intuitive, caring, and ambitious. And it doesn’t hurt that she is simply gorgeous. I met J’dah as a babe and I’ve watched her grow from afar ever since.
Tamura: J’dah, tell the world who you are and what do you like to do and why?
J’dah: I’m J’dah, fifteen, in the tenth grade, and I love to dance. I’m currently doing different types of dance such as modern jazz, hip hop 1&2, ballet, and in the past belly dance. I really love dancing! I love it because it’s a way for me to express myself, and it’s something I’m good at.
Tamura: Hmmm…so dancing allows you to express yourself. Tell me more about that? What do you feel you’re expressing when you dance?
J’dah: Dancing in general is meant to portray a message without using words. You simply use facial expressions, which really helps me connect with my inner mind and body. When I dance, I put whatever emotions I’m feeling into every move. Performing helps me express my emotions in a way that I might not know how with words. Which is why I love it so much!
Tamura: That’s wonderful. I love that. I’ve seen videos of you dancing. You’re right. You can get down. So tell me about your future. What do you want to be when you grow up and why? And does dancing influence this?
J’dah: When I grow up I want to be a nurse or a dentist. I’m interested in both fields. However, I’ve been trying to choose one. I’ve always had an interest in learning about the human body. It really fascinates me so I definitely know that I want to major in the medical field.
Tamura: I love that. What fascinates you about the human body? And by the way, I love that you have such an appreciation for the body. I imagine your love for dance and movement of the body also plays a role there.
J’dah: That’s true. I’m fascinated by the human body because I’ve been dancing for about three years. I’ve learned that your body is capable of doing anything you want it to, if you work hard at it. I find it amazing how dance can tell a story within such a short amount of time.
Tamura: That’s fantastic. I think you’re way ahead of the curve there. It seems you find power — your power — in the body. I love that. So, speaking of humans and bodies, what kind of community service work do you do? Anything for the people?
J’dah: This past summer I spent two weeks everyday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Holy Family Day Home in San Francisco. This is a non profit organization that provides day care and school for children from three months to five years old. After that they graduate and go to kindergarten. I had so much fun with the kids this summer! They were so smart and very energetic. I will most definitely volunteer with them again.
Tamura: Hmmm. Smart and energetic. Sounds a lot like you! So, what is it like being a girl?
J’dah: Being a girl is combination of a whole lot of things. It’s hard because I sometimes put myself down because of what others may think of me. I’m always trying to run away from any criticism or judgment made against me. However, I also love being a girl. Regardless of what people may think of you there is always someone out there who may think that you’re absolutely amazing.
Tamura: Well, you should know this already, but you certainly have a fan in me. I told your mom that you’re like my imaginary daughter, if I ever had one. I see you, and I only see greatness. I want YOU to see that too. But…constructive critiques can be helpful. They help us to grow and become better. Still, you’re right, being a girl is hard. At times it feels like the whole world is judging you. Especially when black. Speaking of which, what is it like being a beautiful chocolate coated black girl in Northern, CA? A lot of people don’t know this but, Cali has it’s race and color issues…
J’dah: Considering the fact that I’m a chocolate girl, I have struggled with feeling confident in myself because of my color. There was a time when I felt completely alone, as if there was no one else like me. It’s funny how quickly things can change because in middle school, which was predominately white, I wasn’t considered a pretty girl. Once I got to high school, my whole world changed. I was getting compliments all the time and it really boosted my confidence. I really think that sometimes it takes hearing you’re beautiful from others to believe it. At least it did for me personally.
Tamura: Love, this is absolutely true. As you know, I grew up not too far from where you live, during my high school years. It was a culture shock for me. I learned every single stereotype known to humanity about black women and girls while there. It definitely broke my spirit for a while. It took moving to Atlanta, GA for college, where I met your mom, and being surrounded with all kinds of beautiful and progressive black folk, for me to believe that I too was beautiful. Of course my parents and aunties and uncles told me, but you know, that doesn’t really count. I still struggle with this, too. I hope you don’t struggle as long because truly, and I absolutely mean this, I’ve never seen a girl-child so stunning. And your beauty is layered. There’s something deep within, I can tell. Your inner beauty is bright. And your outward beauty is bar none. Please know and remember that. Know it for yourself. But remember this as well, physical beauty, as measured by American beauty culture, was never meant to include us. Yet, everything about you and I–our hair, lips, etc. etc., are in high demand within the beauty industry. You have to ask, why is that? The irony! Still, physical beauty is fleeting. You’re so much more than warped American beauty ideals lil sis. Nevertheless…the desire to be considered and feel beautiful is real. I get it. I don’t want to side step that and pretend it doesn’t matter. That said, what are some of your challenges with that?
J’dah: The color thing. I feel that most guys that I have been attracted to so far like light skinned girls more than dark skinned girls. I’ve heard guys say they don’t date black girls because they’re too much to deal with. However this affects me because not all black girls are “too much to deal with.” This has also made me feel insecure at times. So being dark skinned in general has also been a challenge for me.
Tamura: Trust me when I say this, those guys are not worth your time or energy. They can’t see your value, which extends far beyond the physical and far beyond their simple-stereotypical-coloristic-mindedness. Too dark? “Too much to deal with?” Says who? And what year is this, by the way? 1913 or 2013? I hate to hear how young black men and boys are taking on the racist, sexist and colorist notions of old. Lil sis, you just keep it moving. One thing I love about facebook is that you can look and see how all of your former crushes are doing–those who perhaps you may feel or felt rejected by. Girl…I can safely say that I’m very happy those folk didn’t give me the time of day. Count it as a blessing. They’re not worth your time. You’re a gem and there’s a gem out there just for you. So, last question, how do you plan to make the world a better place for girls?
J’dah: I plan to make this world a better place for girls by becoming a black dentist or nurse. I want to inspire young girls to be the best they can be and love themselves for who they are no matter what others think.