Long before I had my daughter, I was a mentor to hundreds of Black girls all over Philadelphia. We laughed together, cried together, but at the end of the day, I sent them back home to their mamas.
Life is a lot different now. I’m raising my own little Black girl, and all of the worries and concerns that I had for my students are still there, but magnified by about a gazillion. Oh, and of course, there is no other mama for me to send her to at the end of the day. I’m the one!
Raising my own little Black girl has certainly been more about the ups than the downs. Although we had a few issues where she was concerned about being the only Black girl in her class, and Lawd knows we struggle on wash day, I am so grateful to have a sweet brown girl to go through life with.
25 Things I Want My Black Daughter To Know
1. You’re not responsible for the entire race, but some folks might think you are. Remember that as you make decisions.
2. I don’t expect you to be better because you’re Black. I expect you to be better because you’re capable.
3. You’re my child now, and you’ll be my child even after you’re 18. You don’t have to feel ashamed for needing me to be your parent.
4. No adult should ever speak to you like you’re an adult. People try that a lot with Black kids. You make sure to tell them that they need to call and talk to your mama.
5. Your hair is beautiful. It’s kinky. It’s crinkly. It is NOT curly. It’s still incredibly lovely.
6. Your hair does not define you. It’s not even close to being the best thing about you.
7. Learning how to swim is a requirement. So is trying things like golf, skiing, and other “less Black” activities. You’ll never know if you like it if you don’t try it.
8. It’s okay to have emotions. Cry, yell, laugh…other folks do it, and you should, too.
9. Just being Black is enough. You don’t have to be creative with your ancestry to make yourself more valuable. Yes, you do have Native American and European heritage, but at the end of the day, we’re basically just Black. And that’s good.
10. You come from a long line of entrepreneurs, inventors, scholars, and yes, royalty. Just because there may not be major motion pictures about the successes of your ancestors doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
11. You’re not a villain just because you have a loud voice. You are also not aggressive, angry, or a bully. You’re just loud. Don’t allow other folks to fit you into their trope of the “angry Black woman”.
12. If you are doing something out of line, I’m going to address it immediately. It’s not because I don’t love you, or because I’m not a cool mom. It’s because I care more about you learning lessons in the moment than what your friends might think. You’ll thank me later.
13. There is no such thing as not seeing color.
14. Being the only Black girl in the room is a good thing. That means you get to stand out.
15. If there is only one other Black girl in the room, go say hi. Don’t shy away. She won’t take your “shine”.
16. Best friends can come in any color. Opposites attract.
17. When it’s time for you to date, it doesn’t matter what color a boy* is. He’d just better treat you just as well as your daddy does. (*Or girl. Whatever.)
18. Black history is American history. All of it is your history.
19. Read a lot of books about Black girls and women that are written by Black girls and women.
20. Write your story. Journal, blog, whatever you do, keep record of your own experience.
21. Don’t expect the media to represent you in the best light. Always be aware of the way you are representing yourself.
22. Start a business. Create a company. You never want to be in a position where you’re wondering if you’re not getting hired because you’re wearing braids or an afro.
23. Folks are going to want to have deep conversations with you about race because you’re Black. It’s ok to tell them when you’re not in the mood.
24. You don’t have to educate every non-Black you meet about the Black experience. There are lots of resources out there for folks. It’s not your fault if you happen to be the only Black person they know.
25. Being Black is just one thing about you, but some folks will see it as the most important thing. It’s not. It’s not even the most interesting thing about you.