Solange and the Triumph of the Little Sister

 

I have a younger sister, Jocelyn.

She is 6 years younger than me.

By the time, she was born, my parents were headed for divorce.

She’s the only sibling that didn’t grow up with our dad in the house.

For this reason, I think, she has felt more emotional pain beyond the typical annoyance of being the youngest.

There are 3 girls and 1 boy in my family. I am a little sister too, but not the baby. Jocelyn and I.

Jocelyn, like many younger siblings, struggled to settle in and shape her own identity within our family dynamics.

She believes I am more “popular— the favorite. People don’t take me as serious as they do you,” she says.

How many siblings share the same DNA but not the same success?

We’ve seen the struggle.

Rebbie Jackson handled her siblings’ success better than LaToya. Little sis Janet, took control and forced our eyes and ears to embrace her as an individual while maximizing her family’s name.

It’s a difficult task to not allow someone else’s achievements to become a distraction to your own—especially if you’re related. The pressure to be the responsible one if you’re older. The burden of living up to established success, if you’re the younger sibling.  Internal comparisons to each other have put many folks on a therapist’s couch.

But Solange Knowles has figured out how to set her own table.

Solange has been married, divorced, a mother, and married again, while the world celebrated Beyonce.  Solo has figured out through trial and error— and elevators— how to distinguish herself from her superstar sister.

My sister always cheers for me, but I know she wants her own victories.

Jocelyn has stumbled and struggled with her education, her weight and even her health. She has epilepsy.

All this in a Black girl body.

The stress of blackgirlness spares none of us no matter our  age, education, popularity or  being born into a successful family.

Many times it is our sisters both by blood and community who help us heal.

I imagine Solange’s Seat At the Table is as therapeutic for her as it is for  listeners who adore the album.

So as Solange celebrates having the number one album in America on the Billboard charts, I think of my little sister and little sisters everywhere whose lives didn’t go as planned, who need more time and support to figure things out and who have lived in the shadows of their sister (s), and smile.

Can a sis, have a seat, too?

Kelly Harris is a poet and the founder of BrassyBrown.com, and lives in New Orleans with her husband and daughter.