Professional Black Girl: Who Does She Think She Is?



Anyone who follows or engages me in social media, knows that my social media personality is one part Dr. Yaba Blay, two parts Black fool. I like to clown. And I like to laugh. I started using the hashtag #ProfessionalBlackGirl as a way to mark what’s ours as Black girls – a way of saying, “What we have here is a case of peak Black girlness.” You see it. You feel it. You may not have known what to call it or maybe you mistakenly called it something else like “ghetto” or “hood” or “ratchet.” But in naming it “Professional,” I recognize the skill, the talent, the effort, the energy, the beauty, and the power in it – whatever “it” is – and by marking it “Professional,” I recognize that it deserves acknowledgment, if not respect.

reason #674562 how I know me and Taraji are BFFs. #ProfessionalBlackGirl #FBF

A photo posted by Y A B A (@fiyawata) on


capital B though #ProfessionalBlackGirl

A photo posted by Y A B A (@fiyawata) on

Since launching ‘Professional Black Girl’ the series, I’ve received dozens if not hundreds of comments, messages, emails, texts, phone calls, and on-the-street thank yous and hugs. Honestly, this isn’t the response I was expecting. I mean, let’s be real, ‘Professional Black Girl’ IS dope. And yes, I knew that we would be entertained by it and that we would enjoy it, but I never imagined that so many sistas would be freed by it, dare I say empowered by it.

Text message:

Why am I sobbing? It is so so so good!!!!!! You are pure magic! Thank you so much for this Sis. It’s healing in ways I couldn’t have even imagined. Love you.

Email message:

Dear Dr. Blay,

This is a tad lengthy but please bear with me. So much hatred in this world. Young girls (South Africa…the US) are taking precious time away from their education because of hair politics. I watched the video of the South African protest with that young high schooler wearing her hair in all its natural glory, describing the hate she receives. I look at her and others and think: they hate us because they can’t be us. They hate us because we don’t want to be like them. They wish their hair could stand on end and reach towards the sun effortlessly. I cry for her. 

Watching Trump interviews hurts my heart. He gets a platform to spew nonsense and hate. Nothing edifying…but he gets a platform……The protesting NFL Players are losing endorsements…….White woman attacks Muslim ladies and try to rip of their hijab. 

My heart is heavy. I feel weak. I Love My Blackness. I want to be nothing short of THAT greatness. No matter what they say, I know they hate us because we keep loving ourselves in spite of….

Then I watch your video on being a Professional Black Girl and tears stream down my face. That’s exactly what I am and want to be unabashedly. The freedom of being who we are meant to be. I want to scream it on the top of mountains. I want to just. Be. Me. 

I am a physician and oftentimes feel constrained to fit a certain model…but I am multifaceted and desire to live in my truth. Thank you for this and Thank you for reading my email. I deeply appreciate you! 

YouTube comment:

Thank you! This makes me proud of EVERYTHING I COME FROM: teen pregnancy, strong faith, diverse frame of mind, and the strength to keep going.

FB message:

hey there sis. I just wanted to reach out to you on PM. #professionalblackgirl has given me some kind of transformative energy. For so long I thought I was really doing something, really being me – in other words, being my bodacious bx girl self, but for some reason still feeling frustrated, trapped, angry. I really was still afraid, I could be myself, bit still felt the pressure of being one of those magical negroes that makes your jaw drop just a bit, the one that younger black girls admire, but don’t quite feel they can approach, because there is still stardust around her. Yet, now, with my wig on and my makeup just right, and giving talks with a bio that starts with saying I am a Bronx native. Giving a speech at a colleague’s retirement party with full wig and attitude. It felt strange, but good, liberating. I am giving two more talks over the next two weeks and I am looking forward to it. Thank you for this, I am feeling like things are going to start being hard to hide, but for the first time I feel like I am ready for it. I am not saying you gave me life. just helped me remember who I was and who I need to be. Long message to say thank you, sis. much love and light to you.

Needless to say I’ve been a warm-n-fuzzy all-up-in-my-feelings bit of a mess for the past three weeks. This Facebook comment, in its three simple sentences, makes me teary every time I scroll past it:

Thank you for showing US about a deeply rooted richness.
Thank you for creating a space for US to speak life into US.
Thank you for being one of US.

Who else would I be if not one of US?

This world would have us separate ourselves from our Selves just to be accepted or seen as acceptable. “Accepted” by whom? “Acceptable” to what end? As I often type whenever we hear the news of another execution, another Black body terrorized by the State –We all we got. It wouldn’t matter what we wear or how we wear it, where we live or who we choose to live near, what we do or how we do it – we’re Black. And THAT is what they hate. From the President of the United States to a 12-year-old boy playing with a BB gun in a park – our Blackness is a threat.

But it’s also a weapon.

A weapon I choose to wield in protection of my Self and my Spirit. They gone hate you anyway, might as well be happy. And free. I’m encouraged by our response to ‘Professional Black Girl.’ It teaches me that although it feels like we need so much and that we’ve got so far to go, it really doesn’t take THAT much to love us. Just a little intentionality and whole ‘lot of commitment. But we can do it. We are doing it. We all we got.

Thank you.

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