A friend of mine with a young black daughter asked me what knowledge I could impart to young black girls growing up in this cruel, often alienating world. How can they make it? Is there any advice to help them as they navigate the world carrying the insecurities and burdens of misogynoir, oppression, white supremacy, and injustices? I make no claims that I have all the answers, or a full proof guide, however, young black girls, I do want to share with you some advice that I wish someone would have shared with me. Here is my letter to you…
Dear Black girls,
The first and most important rule is this: make a home of yourself. If you make a home of yourself first, the rest will follow. Stay strong, and remember self-care is paramount. Don’t ever rely on another person for foundation, strength, respect, self-love, or power. Have you lost something? Your heart? Your willpower? Your independence? Reach inside yourself, search fiercely, and pull it out, even if it’s been buried under all the rubble from the pieces of a broken world. People will always prey on your vulnerability and try to hurt black girls, even when they have good intentions, including your own family. whether they are in your family, Remember– people will leave you. Let them. The only person who is going to keep you warm, admired, appreciated, and sane is you. Don’t surrender your unique magic to other people.
Second, but just as important… know yourself. This may seem cliché and vague, like I’ve been listening to too much Drake or watching too much Disney channel, but this is one of the biggest keys to success. How will you give your heart, time, energy, love, body, or words to another person if you if you don’t first learn what they mean to you? There is absolutely no way to find out what you like in other people, (and sometimes yourself) unless you know what you like first Know who you are. Know what you want. Granted, sometimes in order to know yourself, you will need to go through trial and error, which never really ends but that is perfectly okay. This brings me to my next point…
Make mistakes and more importantly, don’t feel guilty about doing so. No one exits the womb armed with all the knowledge they’ll ever need. Remember though, that along with the duty of making mistakes comes the duty of making amends for them, especially if you truly hurt someone who didn’t deserve it. You must fall in the mud and get dirty in order to remember not to make those mistakes again. You have to find the bridge between what is acceptable, and what isn’t. And that often times means making a mess of things, then fixing them if they need fixing, and then moving on. When you make mistakes, remember that they will make you better, wiser, stronger, and bring you closer to self-fulfillment as well as attaining a deeper understanding of yourself.
After you find out who you are, remind yourself–consistently. Don’t allow yourself forget the depth and value of what and who you are. Remember when I said make yourself a home? You are your own home. You know yourself. You are not the totality of those necessary mistakes, rather, you’re the totality of the knowledge and wisdom you’ve gained from them. Remember everything; your experiences, your story, your blessings, your lovers, your life, your favorite things, people, your beauty, your terrible nights, your pain and triumph. They all belong to you. And while you may not like some of them, they are uniquely yours. And that is something that toxic people will try to make you forget. The world is going to constantly tell you that you are ugly, stupid, uneducated, ignorant, invalid, delicious meat for the wolves. They do not want you to remember yourself or the things you love, cherish and value, because they want to make you believe that you are the weak, making it easier for them to prey on you. Don’t let them. They do this to suppress your power and validity, because they are so scared of the magical force that is you. Chances are, you are far too brave, beautiful, powerful, resilient, terrifying and strange for this world to fully love and embrace who you are.
Lastly, cut off anyone who invalidates you. Sometimes it’ll be your family, often times, it’ll be your friends. It could even be a boss or a partner. Do not engage with toxic people whose best interest are not your best interests. The world is a shark tank, and set up to make black girls and womxn the prey. White supremacy and hatred of black womxn is rampant. It’s in our homes on our television screens. It’s on our bus rides. It’s the lyrics in our music. It’s in our daily conversations. And although it seems inescapable, realize that you have absolute control over what you allow into your home, your life, and ultimately yourself. Recognize the people in your life who told you, subtly or blatantly, to hate your skin, eyes, nose, complexion, ash, hair, strength, and your voice and cut them out. Then allow yourself to heal and grow and fully bloom into yourself.
Ultimately, I want my little sister and all young black girls to know that they you can do it yourselves. Don’t listen to what the predators have conditioned you into thinking and believing. You belong to the earth, to the elements, to ink, to stories, to art, to things everlasting. You, and all black womxn and girls are magic, truly. When you learn, know, and cherish yourself, you learn that your salvation rests in you and you only, and know that you do not need rescuing.