I know a lot of Black women. They vary in age, profession, and background; and all of them are beautiful. While there are many things that make us different, there is one thing that binds us all together, and that is our use of the word “girl.”
By definition, a girl is simply a female child. From the mouths of Black women, however, “girl” means so much more. Destiny’s Child, one of the best selling female groups of all time even wrote an entire song about it on their Destiny Fulfilled album!
The meaning of the word girl and our subsequent use of it has many dimensions. At best, it’s the most versatile word in the lexicon of Black womanhood. It’s a word we love and these are five reasons why.
It’s a greeting
Chances are that if you run into another sister at work, around campus, on in the neighborhood, you’ll hear greetings such as, “Hey girl, hey!” or even, “Heyyyyy, girl!” It’s a sign of connectedness and a mark of acquaintance.
It’s a corrector
If your behavior is sub-par and you need a good talking-to, a stern, “Uh-uh, girl,” or “Girl, stop!” or the ever-so-fitting, “Girl, bye” might be warranted. Whatever the faux pas…we are reminded in this way to get it together, girl.
It’s a prelude to a question or story
You know a good story is coming when the conversation commences with, “Girl, tell me why…” or the shorter version – “Girl, why…” The question to follow is usually rhetorical and is simply a set up to share the deets on the latest drama-filled story of the day.
It’s an exclamation point, all by itself
To accentuate a point (especially when typing), exclaiming the word, “GIRL!” is all you need to get the job done. Whomever you’re talking to will know exactly what you mean. Typical context is to agree or affirm.
In 2006, celebrity DJ Beverly Bond created a youth empowerment mentoring organization called, Black Girls Rock! From their website, “BLACK GIRLS ROCK! seeks to build the self-esteem and self-worth of young women of color by changing their outlook on life, broadening their horizons, and helping them to empower themselves.” From its initial launch, BGR has become a movement that celebrates the experience of Black womanhood, from preteens to difference makers to celebrities.
My favorite reason of all – it’s a synonym for friend.
A common theme throughout the examples noted above, is that to Black women, the word girl is synonymous with friend. Through thick, thin and beyond, if I call you my girl, I mean it. I use it with care and in the most endearing of ways.
Because as the song says, “I’m your girl, you’re my girl, we’re your girls…and don’t you know that we love you?”