When you hear the term ‘carefree black girl’ you probably picture a wonderful array of smiling black women wearing fun hairstyles and clad in colorful, unique outfits. In fact, if you do a google search, that’s exactly what you’ll find. But do you picture yourself among the groups of happy black women wearing bright lipstick and rocking their afros? You should. Here’s how to channel your inner carefree black girl:

Be Unapologetically Black

In this world, it’s not easy to be a carefree black girl, but it’s definitely worthwhile. Being a carefree black girl means that you don’t have to fit into a specific box to be unapologetically black. You don’t have to know all the lyrics to Jay-Z’s new song. You can be a country music fan and still be unapologetically black. Being a carefree black girl can be however you want it to look, so don’t let the world place you in a box or make you believe there's somehow a correct way to be black. In Rookie Magazine, writer and illustrator Alyssa Etoile made a wonderful suggestion about what it means to be a carefree black girl:

“Embracing the carefree black girl meant destroying the idea that we can only show one side of ourselves to the world, erasing the stigma of being black, and the stigma of being a girl, and claiming those identities as a source of pride and confidence.”

Wear Your Hair However You Like

Although I think every black woman should experience the freedom of going natural, I don’t think it’s fair to place pressure on black women who wear weaves or wigs. Black hair is an important staple of black culture, but no one has the right to place pressure on you to wear it a certain way—not your friends, and not your employer. Study after study has shown that natural hair is still considered “unprofessional” in the workplace. But how can the hair that grows out of your head possibly be deemed “unkempt” or “unprofessional?"

If you’re a naturalista, take the time to read up on your rights to wear your natural hair to work and check out Tracy Sanders book on Natural Hair In The Workplace: What Are Your Rights?. Spending time around people who don’t appreciate your natural hair will only hurt your self-esteem. Whether your hair is in protective styles like a weave or a wig, or you’re rocking a big fro, be confident. 

 Support Black Businesses

One of the most important parts of the black community is practicing black economics. We need to build a community of carefree black girls and boys who love being black, love the black community and want what's best for it.

Take Up Activism

This doesn’t mean you have to stand in the streets protesting, nor does this mean you need to be on the frontlines of the current black empowerment movement. Even something as simple as standing up for yourself when a coworker insults you in the workplace can be considered an act of activism. It sends a powerful message to this fundamentally racist and sexist world and says, I am worth something regardless of your opinion of me.

Learn How To Say "No"

My life changed forever when I learned the power of one simple word—"no." Don't allow yourself to feel pressured to conform to what other people think you should be, or to say yes to everything other people ask you to do. Although it’s good to be open to change, it’s not a good idea to apologize for who you are or to change who you are for another person. It’s not your duty or responsibility to make sure everyone else is happy, your only responsibility is to ensure that you are happy and healthy.

Find Your Tribe

The people who you surround yourself with are the best reflection of who you are. So take a moment to consider the friends you have now — are they kind, generous, ambitious and understanding? Do you spend time with them because they make you a better person, or simply for the sake of not being alone? This new year, make it a priority to tighten up your tribe and only spend time with positive, supportive people who want to see you grow and succeed.