I hear a lot of talk about how race doesn’t matter today. About how overblown racial differences are. I hear that technology has not only built bridges across oceans but also diffused racial tensions and blurred the color barrier. I almost sorta kinda but not really was buying into it, until THIS happened. This snapped me back into reality and gave me the wake up call I needed. My 4-yr old daughter crushed my world. She looked me in the eye and had a conversation about race in America that not even Soledad O’Brien can contextualize. She said, “I want to be white.” She told her mother that she wanted to buy some cream, that she saw on TV, to “clear” her skin. All this is after a few incidents at her daycare (where she is one of four black children in a facility with hundreds of kids) made us begin to question our decision in early childcare. How could I let it come to this? I am well versed in African and African American History. I talk bad about people that don’t know their roots or stress the importance of their heritage to their children!! How could my daughter be saying this?!? And at 4 years old. I thought she was too young to start talking to her about her power, the awesomeness of her hair and the beauty of her skin. I affirmed her as my daughter, but everything else around her was demanding an affirmation in society. Why didn’t she look like her white classmates and why could she wear the same hairstyles? Even though she was light skindedded enough to ace the paper bag test, she still wasn’t the same. I had failed to educate her that not being the same was not synonymous with being inferior and that was about to change. It was time to have the talk.
What we talked about is too personal to share, but I realized 3 things (not including that she could make me cry and that I could give out black history lessons like candy at Halloween) after this conversation with my daughter. These 3 things are something I feel every black woman needs to know:
1. Don’t Believe the Hype!:
No matter how hard media and societal norms hit you over the head with a “standardized” version of beauty…DONT BELIEVE THE HYPE!! The images and ideals of beauty that we see everyday don’t line up with reality. Don’t try to mold yourself in these images, instead focus on the beautiful and powerful women in your life. Focus on developing your personality and your personal style will follow. And know that you are FINE, God created you for HIS PURPOSE!
2. Know the truth: you have been the world’s MOTIVATION:
Sisters you have been the prototype forever. From the great dynasties of Kemet all the way to the video vixen, every curve of your body is the inspiration of femininity! Every move you make sets global trends. The power that rest in your soul is enough to shape a man all by yourself if you have to!! You are a PHENOMENAL WOMAN! Why would you put sprite in a coke bottle, you’re already the real thing!
3. AFFIRM THE TRUTH!
Everyday you should look in the mirror and remind yourself that you rock! And remember that more than once in your life you will be the rock of your family, friends, and community. Tell yourself what I tell my daughter when I wake her up in the morning, “good morning my beautiful black princess, are you ready to run into your greatness today?”
I don’t care what end of the black spectrum you fall on; you are a pretty girl and PRETTY GIRLS ROCK!
*men, brothers, please take heed to this message!! Please look your daughter in the eye and tell her she is beautiful! Please treat your wife, baby momma, gal, momma, auntie, whomever…like she is special. Your kids are watching!
Check out some sisters that are doing their thing:
- Chef and Healthy Living Expert – CHEF NETTIE
- Pretty Party (Socially conscious entrepreneurship) – www.theprettyparty.com
- In-depth look at issues facing black women – www.whataboutourdaughters.com
- Get fit and keep your curves – www.blackgirlsguidetoweightloss.com
- Event Planning and Consulting – www.thesavvyconsultants.com
- 50 Blogs by Happy Black Women