Dear Future Daughter,
I hope that when you read this, I will still believe in living with purpose, and should I ever forget, please remind me of my own words.
You see, your mother was born a Black girl in this world, and you will be too – no matter your shade of brown. I want you to know some things about this life as you go through it. And especially when you might feel lonely in your soul and in your skin, I want you to consider these reflections.
I will have probably said it to you a thousand times, but please know that the “system” is hard to change. That anyone who stands up to fight it ought to be prepared for the work of a lifetime.
I hope you see me as a woman who fought for her place in the world. But not only hers but also yours, and all the girls who look like you. I want you to know that even before you were born, I lived by an ancient truth: “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” I want you know that before you were born, your mother was fighting for you.
The world will tell you, “Be strong, little girl.” And indeed just as my mother passed down her strength to me, I hope to pass it down to you. But I want you to be more than your strength. Be vulnerable. Be open. Cry. Because little Black girls deserve to be told that they too deserve to be protected. My dear, as long as you are alive, know that you are protected.
This protection, I hope, rather than shield you from the world, will make you brave, because a good life cannot be lived without courage. The courage to do what is right, the courage to live by your own rules, and the courage to create a self that makes you proud. But I want you to know that in any moment when you lose your courage – and there might be some – remember that you can always recover; you can always find it. It is never too late to be courageous.
My dear child, another thing I hope to teach you in deeds more than in words, is kindness. Even when it is not always returned, I hope you practice this virtue regularly. You see, it is very easy to become a hardened person in this world, with all its sorrow and pain. Life is good at making and remaking those things – sorrow and pain; there’s no way to escape either. But you will find that kindness to yourself and to others can be a great healer. And in this world you will need healing and often. And if you can be a healer to others, know that you have done a great deed.
Speaking of healing, do pick your friends wisely, my dear. Your kindness should not be a reason for naiveté. Your energy and space and soul deserve to looked after, too. So cease to be around people who make you feel less than, or unloved, or unlovable. This is not always easy, and your heart may have to be broken once or twice to learn this truth the hard way. But don’t let your heart be broken so often for lack of attention to it.
And for that matter, don’t break your own heart often.
At this point, I must tell you also that you will not always be treated fairly or well. Do not let this deter you from pursuing your purposes and your dreams. Perseverance is a beautiful thing. It is the thing that separates the ordinary from the great. And my dear, no matter what you pursue, always try to be great. But even more than being great, I want you to seek goodness in all that you do.
Finally, and I will tell you this all your life – love the skin you’re in. In your skin, you carry the beauty of so many who came before you, whose spirits will always be with you to rest your weary head. Call on us no matter how far or near, and whether we are here in body and spirit, or only in spirit. Call on us to empower you when you are afraid, to inspire you when you have lost faith, and to always, always remind you that you are deeply loved.
Go out into the world, my strong, vulnerable, courageous, kind, and loving girl. Go out and be a shining light. Go out and let them know your name. Go out and find your happiness. Go out and truly live.
Your (future) mother.
What would you say in a letter to your future daughter?