Those that are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be healthy and flourishing. Psalm 92:13-14
"If you aren't moving forward then you are actually going backward, because everything in the universe is always in flux." Happiness Becomes You: A Guide to Changing Your Life for Good, written at age 80 by ageless, icon Tina Turner , who performed her final world tour at 69 years old.
It's 2021 and we need something to celebrate. Yes, we have the welcome change in Washington (whew) and we have the Covid vaccine (Yaay)! I'd like to suggest another change--a change in our language and attitudes about Black women 70 plus. I have thought about this since I turned 70 in 2019. i was surprised by how I resisted telling people my age. I did celebrate this huge gift of aging with my sisters and a few of my friends in Nashville, but when I returned home, I sank into a melancholy that was only made more real because I had moved into an "active Senior community" (Waaa). I could not believe that I was that woman who is put into a box called "senior, sexless, silent." I have never allowed myself to assume one identity and decided to push back against how 70 is perceived in my life and in popular culture. I decided to define for myself what 70 plus means by providing radically real images and relevant language that reflect me, my friends and our experiences as Black women 70 plus who continue to move forward.
I don't know how old this woman is we see as the personality for Canada Dry's Bold ginger ale; I'm happy she is working. But, when I saw this ad made in 2020 I shook my head because our culture continues to operate out of an old script. I showed this ad to my friends and they found it funny. It may be, but I reminded them of the broader social implications of what may seem like a funny reset on grandma. Though this ad may disrupt ginger ale, it continues to play into stereotypes of Black women that portray us as sexless and a joke. Despite the message of the ad, which states that both Canada Dry and "grandma" are bold and modern. What we really are seeing is a 1950's "Moms Mabley" joke (look it up kids) touched up for 2020. When you look at this use your critical eye, okay!??! Is this who you are my 70+ Sister??!! Not the Sisters I know.
Let's flip the script on how Black women 70+ are talked about. I offer you real images and a new story about Black women 70 plus. I'm beginning with:
Pam (70), as sexy and jazzy as her Jaguar, is my opening image for this article. A former advertising executive who in this new chapter of life now writes romance novels and is a part-time assistant to a sales consultant in the real estate industry.
Toni, is an elegant and energetic Gigi--grandmother-- (72) who managed Human Resources at an United Methodist agency and now continues to serve by paving the road to success for other women.
Me at 71--keeping it moving to Gospel music each morning with spirited, soulful stretches in my bathroom mirror. I continue to coach on wellness and offer holistic counseling to other women (just one of my many identities).
Join our movement to speak for ourselves. I need you to send pictures, stories, and comments about what it means to be or know, or admire a Black woman 70+. We must change the narrative, change the jokes, change the stereotypical images that pop into our heads about Black women 70 plus. We must "flip the script" because we keep moving forward and speaking up while looking good.