Hey APC, my name is Sasha DuBose! First and foremost, I am an 18-year-old black girl. I’m from Maplewood, New Jersey and I’m an incoming freshman at New York University majoring in Nutrition and Food Studies.
Recently I discovered a musical treasure – and by that, I mean SZA’s live performance of her song “Normal Girl” at The Roots Picnic. I have always turned to this song during my thoughtful late nights. However, the mellow yet melancholy vibes of SZA’s lyrics struck me in a deeper way this time around.
Current events, such as the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oluwatoyin “Toyin” Salau, and countless others sparked our society into having meaningful discussions about systemic racism. The conversations I find most insightful are the ones about language. Posts highlighting the use of “enslaved” versus “slave,” “enslaver” versus “master,” and “Black” versus “black” show how essential language is in understanding my history and identity.
When considering the power of language while listening to “Normal Girl,” I think about what the word “normal” really means. In the midst of a pandemic and social unrest, some people just wish everything could go back to “normal.” My piece, “Analysis of Normal” assesses my own definition of “normal” and challenges what “normal” means in our society. Is normal a good thing? Is it something we should strive for? Like SZA, I don’t think I am a “normal” girl under society’s standards, but should anyone be?
Analysis of Normal
By Sasha DuBose
SZA sings “I wish I was a Normal Girl,”
I wonder what that means for me and my little world.
I too, wish I was a “normal” girl.
I wish I could easily straighten my hair;
I wish I walk outside without a care.
I wish I could live in a world where I am free,
However, “normal” is not my reality.
I wish I lived in a world where I’m considered attractive,
But society doesn’t equate beauty with Blackness.
When I get awards, I receive high praise;
But it’s hard to feel “normal” when viewed under white gaze.
Even as I’m constantly raising the bar,
Society makes achieving “normal” quite hard.
Striving for normalcy makes me feel worn;
In order to feel “normal,” I must always outperform.
Being superhuman at all times is tragic;
In order to be worthy, why must I be magic?
Black womxn push through in the face of oppression,
But why is our strength everyone’s huge obsession?
When I’m out with my friends, I try to conform;
It’s exhausting. Always trying to fit the “norm.”
Trying to be “normal” is all I’ve been told,
What if I’m tired of fitting society’s mold?
What does society consider “normal” anyway?
The murders of Black and brown people everyday?
Millionaires and billionaires with workers they won’t pay?
People thinking climate change will simply fade away?
Those who won’t accept immigrants are here to stay?
Americans who treat a pandemic like a field day?
And a “President” who comes for his citizens like a beast of prey?
Living in a society naturally filled with hate,
I’m starting to think “normal” isn’t all that great.
SZA sings, “I’ll never be a normal girl”
I’m understanding what that means to me and my world.
Thinking about “normal” makes me feel introspective;
How can I define myself by a word so subjective?
The society we live in is filled with formalities;
It’s time we break apart our desire for normality.