I got my first tattoo a few months after my 18th birthday. Freaknik was about to happen and I was a freshman at Clark Atlanta University. “Hotlanta” was about to house thousands of black college students, for our very own spring break festival, and I was definitely going to get my sex on. What better way to say badass sexy than a tattoo.
Although I am a rebel at my core, I have always had a very practical side to myself. I knew that if I got a tattoo, I’d be stuck with it for life. I wanted my tattoo to signify what I was about.
18 year old me was VERY Afrocentric! I kept my hair natural and daishikis we a common part of my daily attire. I was in what I call my red phase, very aware of my people’s history and ongoing struggle, and pissed off about it. I wanted a tattoo that screamed, “I’m black and I’m proud.”
In Atlanta, it was common for the “conscious” brothas to call black women Queen. They’d say, “Hello Queen!” when you walked by. I loved that. Plus, I liked the fact that this sentiment was a direct affront to the negative image of black women that I felt was extremely pervasive in America. It felt like we were being belittled at every turn and I liked that calling ourselves Queen pushed back against that.
However as time has passed and I have grown, I have come to rethink the use of the word Queen to define ourselves. I think the sentiment behind the use is very valid but the term itself misses the mark.
I hate being called Queen!
Why, because I am not nor do I need to rule over anyone or anything.
Two, because I see nothing good about monarchy, nothing to celebrate about a system that elevates one human being as superior to others simply by virtue of birth. (Mind you, it was my ancestors that were bought and bartered for, as if they were cattle, by kings and queens both black and white!)
Third, because I have enough pride in myself, just as I am, without the need for false accolades and platitudes.
My study of history has not shown me that having a queen is a positive thing. In essence, monarchy means that one person has rule over a group of people for no other reason than being born into the correct family. This is true whether you are talking about African queens or European queens. Being a person who values freedom above all else, any system of control based on birthright isn’t something I want to celebrate.