I sit down and chat with the Care-free Queen herself, Raven White.
Did you go to college specifically for art?
I went to school for animation and have a special spot in my heart for cartoons and telling a story visually.
What draws me to your comic is the What inspired you it start a webcomic, much more a webcomic about your desire to be a “Carefree Black Girl”?
Back in 2014 I was dealing with doing my senior thesis film, losing my great grandmother, and antiblack racial tensions rising. It was all pretty traumatic so I was desperately looking for an outlet. I saw that carefree black girls were popular but nothing explaining what that meant besides looking the part. I wanted to feel the part too so, I decided to find out for myself.
How would you describe your humor?
In the black community, we treat hardships with humor. Right now, things are eff’ed up and humor is medicine for the soul. It’s necessary. We give tough blows in light touches. I build self -confidence from taking a great trait about myself – my humor, and mixing it with a trait I used to dislike about myself, my sensitivity to present myself as a black girl.
What’s your favorite CFBG?
I use them as examples. They are ‘black girl goals’. One of my favorites was Nicki Minaj. How she called out Miley Cyrus was priceless. People have criticized Nicki for being childish for going after Miley, but understand that Miley profited off of black culture at the time. “Loves” our culture but can’t be bothered to hear us.
So yeah, Nicki calling out Miley in front of America was so validating.
I’ve noticed that you have spoken on matters like Black Lives Matter and generally make light of political commentary. How far do you think that your work is activism?
I see CFBG Tips as a sort of diary, but it’s grown to give comfort to girls just like me. Being black in America means everything you do is political, so with cfbg tips its “activism” seems to focus on self-love and making sure you’re mentally ok. Being socially aware and participating in activism, it can be SO mentally taxing so its job is a reminder to be ok. Haha… but now that I use Twitter a lot, I still need to disengage every once in awhile.
In your really early strips, you took a break for several months because of mental health issues. How do you think the black community needs to handle mental health? How does being carefree play into being mentally healthy?
It’s a huge issue. In my experience, there’s this belief that mental illness is a weakness. I’ve been told to “take it to God and leave it there”, regardless of whether or not it gets resolved. But in a historical context, we’ve never had time to think about us. We never collectively addressed our generational trauma. From Slavery, to Jim Crow, to War on Drugs, to Poverty, to the Prison Industrial Complex, Police Brutality and so on. There’s SO much more between all of that. Now we’re being more open to talking about it and that’s a LOT to unpackage.
On the other hand though, I have to be mindful of those different experiences and trauma. For example, when I went to my parents about my depression, my dad denied it. It was hard for him to understand because he grew up in poverty and success and happiness to him was having his own. Not being in the hood anymore. Having dinner every night and a roof to call your own over your head. A family that was present. To him, I had all of that so his thing was, “You’re depressed? For what? Look at everything you have that I didn’t.” He’s better now. He’s a lot more understanding but initially? Whew.
Where do you see CFBGT going?
It will end, like all projects do. Before it ends, I’m planning on having a book ready for the comic. In years wise? It’ll always be my baby, my first serious project.
How do you think you combat negative stereotypes of black women with your blog?
As much as the media is not black women’s friend, it is a great outlet to set your own narrative out into the world. You control the narrative, especially on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. You see it all the time with hypervisible women. Recently, Beyonce technically did a press release of her pregnancy on her Instagram.
Media gives you the opportunity to be the primary source. To do your own thing.
On the flipside though, using anti-blackness to pander to a base that will give you money is popular too, unfortunately. But that’s typical in a society like this–blackness is profitable, whether it’s positive or negative. Black anger is profitable too. They LOVE to get us to provide hate clicks for their content. So to combat that I just continue producing my content that I know is loved and appreciated. I also make sure to not give those anti-black things my clicks or my attention. They need us. We don’t need them.
What do you consider a care-free black girl is?
A cfbg is one that 100% is comfortable with themselves and is doing pretty alright in practicing self-care. And though we live in a misogynoiristic world, they know they’re magic and most importantly human.
Anything you would want to say for Black History Month?
Please stay winning. Black and beautiful. Do anything and everything for the culture. Have each other’s back because if we don’t who will? But on the flipside, not all your skinfolk are your kinfolk. You can love and defend at a distance.
What would you want your audience to know?
What I would want my followers to know: The journey is never over. You are still imperfect, and you are going to have bad days and good days. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Make sure that you’re practicing mental wellness and self-care, and that anyone is susceptible to illness. Also, know that you matter.
When I fell into my episodes, I practiced not beating myself up about it. Every episode ends and it will pass so I know how to manage it better now and days.
Also, normalize loving yourself. It’s not easy but it’s worthy. Haha, I hope I don’t sound fake-deep but that’s really it; loving yourself, recognizing you’re human, and not being so hard on yourself when life happens.
Find more of Raven White!