Andrews is also the author of Bitch is the New Black, but her article at The Root is the most tedious mash-up of whining over black womanhood that I've read in a while. "Dear Helena," I whispered while reading it, "please grow up."
I don't mean to give this one young black woman and writer a hard time, but as a woman who is probably old enough to be her mother, I am giving her the same advice that I would give to my 29-year-old daughter if she started spouting this nonsense. I confess that I'm developing a low tolerance for young, educated African-American women crying over their so-called horrible lives.
The article frames Middleton's recent engagement to Prince William in the context of the plight of black women and Disney's fictitious black Princess Tiana of all things. I responded at The Root, but I had to cut out some of what I wanted to say because of the site's word limit. Here is my response in full:
This lamentation concerns me because it's not grounded in reality. I hope the writer will consider the lives of the other real white princesses of Great Britain who captured the imagination of America not that long ago and grasp that their lives were not fairy tales. Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson married Prince Andrew and Lady Diana married Prince Charles (Prince William's father). Fergie and Andrew are now divorced, and her life was just this year sinking in scandal. But the greater scandal was how Prince Charles handled Diana.
Prince Charles cheated on his princess with the woman he really loved, the one who he was not permitted to marry the first time. He and Diana divorced eventually, setting Great Britain on its ear, and later Diana died being chased by paparazzi. So, neither of these British princesses knew the genuine love of a prince because their princes were human men, not fantasy men.
Furthermore, if we look beyond the Disney cartoon mentioned, we will learn that Princess Tiana of The Princess and the Frog is based on a real black woman in New Orleans, Leah Chase, the owner of Dooky Chase restaurant, whose life has been successful. She didn't marry a monarch in waiting. She married Dooky. Her grandchildren now help her run the restaurant. If she had spent her youth focused on what she couldn't have or how much better off the white women around her fared, I wonder if she would have achieved anything.
But why does this article focus on how white men portrayed a black female cartoon character anyway?
As others have told the writer, there are real black princesses in the world to compare to the real white princesses of the world. Oprah just had on Princess Akosua of Ghana, a princess by blood not marriage, who played Celie's sister in the The Color Purple movie 20-plus years ago. She is a beautiful woman who was once married to the director James Singleton, and now lives a productive life without him.
This article may have been written for the sake of drawing hits to The Root, but going for the hits at the expense of making black women sound like pitiful souls who can't live full lives without princes like those from white monarchies does us all, both black men and black women, a disservice.
I recommend that instead of looking at ourselves through Tyler Perry's lens, which distorted the affirming message of Ntozake Shange's iconic play, and instead of seeing a potential role model in Disney's fictitious and only black princess, that we reflect on the more empowering words of Zora Neale Hurston:
"... I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all. I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature somehow has given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are hurt about it. ... No, I do not weep at the world. I am too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”Hurston lived through a historical period of oppression that far exceeds the kind of oppression black women face today in terms of white society vs. black society. She didn't spend a lot of time crying in her bed. Neither should today's young black women cry in theirs because their opportunities for greatness surpass Hurston's.
Black women should not view reality, as this article seems to suggest, as some dismal prospect over which they have little power. If you act like a queen, if you pursue the dreams, maturity, education, and wisdom of a queen, then you are a queen. Queens trump princesses.