So, I went to dinner with three friends this past Friday night. We were sitting at a hibachi table with a brotha and his daughter and son. Before they left, we found out that it was the young girl’s birthday and that she was turning fifteen. In the midst of dinnertime conversation, the subject of Amber Cole was brought up. Now, just in case you don’t know, I’ll bring you up to speed because with all of the things going on in the world, it is definitely possible to miss a piece of information.
Amber Cole is a fourteen year old girl in Baltimore that was caught on video performing oral sex on a boy outside their school. There’s been some back and forth about whether Amber was aware that she was being recorded. Either way, that is not the gist of this post. Of course, this video circulated like wildfire all over the internet. Not surprisingly, the young girl’s name, honor, and everything else has been harshly criticized. However, as I think about the incident, I can’t help but feel sorry for the young girl.
Youth, naivete, and lack of mentoring can manifest itself in some disturbing ways, in addition, we also have to look at how cultural influences strongly impact our children. With the constant barrage of alleged sex tapes of entertainers filtering the cyber-underground, is it a surprise that these young people thought it was dope to make their own version? Considering that the image/perception of Black women being sexually promiscuous and nearly everything uncivilized is still prevalent, should others be so judgmental if possibly Amber’s idea of a Black woman is wrapped up in those lingering stereotypes?
As an avid lover of Hip Hop culture, I would be remiss if I didn’t hold accountable the deteriorated aesthestic of much of today’s rap music and its’ influence on the sexuality of Black youth. Since its inception as a cultural force during the ’80s, it’s always had its misogynistic leanings, however, we did have some tight ass representation with MC Lyte & Queen Latifah to balance us out. But the point here is, despite all of the influences, Amber should be embraced by us with lots of love. Where is the community of Black women who are willing to sit down and talk to her without a scolding, offensive tongue? When I was growing up, my mother and several of her friends that I dubbed ‘my other mamas’ broke life down to me in the frankest and simplest terms and I’ve been forever blessed with their impartation of knowledge and wisdom. You see, Amber Cole, to me, is not really any different from us when we were her age. For many of us as teenage girls, boys were at the center of our universe. We defined and validated ourselves based on how much those young boys liked us. Also, let’s be honest here, sexual feelings were coursing through our veins, too and we’ve all done our fair share of stupid things all for the sake of being liked, or, ‘loved’ by our ‘boyfriends’. For the most part, we should all be thankful that camera phones weren’t around to record our foolery.
In defense of Amber, I will make a confession. When I was fourteen, I was a seasoned pro at masturbating and I had already made out with a couple of boys under the bleachers after football games. Now, I’m sure that the notion of me being a ‘fast ass little girl’ has ran across your minds as you read this — but I don’t care. Because if many of you will be honest with yourselves, you will know that the joy of innocence for our children was stripped away a long time ago — so let’s not be so hypocritical about this situation. As adults, we are competing with some strong and powerful forces out here that are vying for the attention of our children, therefore, we have to make a special effort to talk directly to our children like grown folks. The whole ‘just don’t do it’ directive barely worked with our generation as there were fourteen year old girls becoming mothers during my days at my Mississippi high school.
Of course, during these current times, the discussion has to take on more of an urgent tone because of teen domestic violence, child pornography, HIV/AIDS & other sexually transmitted diseases. But, also, we have to make sure our children understand the dynamics of knowledge of self and building healthy love relationships. They have to learn about their identity in God as well as in the world, and yes, there is a need for them to begin their journeys in understanding their complicated Blackness. For young Black girls, they have to learn about the historical and cultural implications of Black womanhood. With all of these factors combined, they will be empowered to make sound decisions about their lives, prayerfully choosing to abstain until their minds and spirits can catch up with their bodies, and most importantly, when they are safely within the confines of a beautiful, loving, respectful relationship that blesses them rather than deplete them of their self-worth.
To that end, there’s some more Amber Coles out here and they’re in their 20s, 30s, and even their 40s; Black women who are simply not equipped to engage in any kind of love relationship because they are not doing the work on themselves. Quite possibly, this could be the reason for some of the backlash. Perhaps, those women who viciously attacked Amber Cole or, at least, snubbed their noses at her, caught a glimpse of themselves; maybe many of them are basically doing the same thing as Amber — vying for the attention and affection of a man because their self-worth depends on it. I, along with two of my friends, expressed many of these sentiments at the dinner table that Friday night and the fifteen year old was honed in to every word. It is my prayer that she will take everything that we said to heart and make a much wiser decision than Amber. Meanwhile, let all of us, with compassion, pray for Amber, those boys, and their families.