The Old Black Woman says: “Do you got yo big girl’s drawls on? Can you stand a fight?”
I really love this Huggies’ commercial because it shows a little girl professing she’s a big kid because she knows how to wear pull-ups which is the first step toward wearing big girl panties drawls. [Song in the tune of the Huggies’ commercial] So, she’s a big girl now.
At this very moment, I am in the process of learning all that I can about Michelle Rhee who is the chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington, D.C. For better or for worse, she is a woman who knows how to wear big girl panties drawls. Not only does she know how to wear them, but she seems to keep a variety of them—red, purple, cerulean, and verdant—nearby just in case she has to do a quick last minute improvisation in order to get school wide consensus for her performance based teacher pay policies.Irrespective if you agree with her policy positions around issues of performance based pay or charter schools, you must marvel at her ability to incite controversy and remain steadfast in the thick of the fight. She’s fired teachers for their lack of commitment. She has closed under-performing schools. She has fired principals of high performing schools. She has insisted on merit based pay for teachers. To say the least, she wears her big girl panties drawls proudly. I know some of you reading this will say, “How can you, black feminist, uplift a woman who seems to operate like men in power?”
And my response to you is simply this she is a model of a fighter. She is the type of woman who knows how to dig her heels into the ground and say, “These are my boundaries that you will not cross and if you do I will not cower away and lick my wounds. I will fight you. Do you hear me. I will fight you.” It is her spirit of fight (i.e. big girl drawls) that I marvel at because we as a society do not intentionally cultivate girls’ fighting spirits. We do not teach them how to maintain their position in a street corner brawl where their reputation, occupation, family life, self-esteem, and most importantly their inner voice are on the line. We do not teach them how to stay in a battle . . . how to endure when people “scandalize your good name” because they do not like you . . . how to deal with not having a cadre of friends because you tell it like it is and you don’t hide behind passive aggressive actions and behaviors . . . how to negotiate leading people when they utterly refuse downright protest being lead.
Do you got your big girl drawls on?
In particular, women like Michelle Rhee are successful in their jobs not simply because they operate in the ways and means men have tended to operate in positions of power. But, women like Michelle Rhee are successful because fundamentally they know the importance of boundaries, commanding their space, knowing when they need to light a fire under people’s derrières when they offend, and seeing the job done to the very end come hell and high water.
I guess I should share why I’m reading all the things I can find on Michelle Rhee. In the future I hope to have my own school meaning I need to prepare myself for what such a role would entail when it comes to managing people, ideologies, and limited resources. I need models for how to wear big girl panties drawls. I need to know that there are women who are not afraid of a bonafide fight where the victor is able to mentor and instruct young girls on how to wear their big girl drawls. I need to know I can begin and endure a fight because the price of “retreat” is the killing of my own soul and the killing of my purpose to empower girls.
And so I look for models on how to wear big girl drawls . . . “cause I’m a big girl now.”