Labels and Boxes and Black Girl Magic: Love for My Dreamer
by Danielle Bradley
To My Beautifull Baby Girl -
The child my mind was too ignorant to know it needed. You, who decided on your own terms to literally step out of my womb at a time of your own choosing. From the day of your unveiling to the world, I knew you were going to be a force.
You came out of my womb over 10 lbs and refused to lay your head down on the nurse’s shoulder. Even then, with only minutes of existing outside of me, you refused to let anyone support something as precious as your head. And I knew you were going to be your generation’s nightmare, dreamed to fruition on the blood, sweat, and tears of women past.
You. The piece of my heart that loves freely and full, who has never met a stranger. You think a smile and wave makes you forever friends and cry when a friendly waitress says goodbye. I so wish I could tell you to guard your heart, that so many won’t deserve it.
They will use your unicorn smile to fight their demons until all of your shimmer is gone.
They will use your love like a drug and discard you until their fix wears off. They will never feed your soul. I wish I could tell you to run and hide your heart. Your heart that has no place in this desolate space, but I can’t. It’s needed too much and your freely given smile and hugs are who you are. But I will be there, with a sword and a mother’s shield, whenever your heart needs a fortress. If only to give you a place of refuge, so that you may fill in the cracks of your foundation again.
My Dreamer. You who loves playing pretend. You can turn anything into a fantasy of your choosing. I hope you never lose that. But I hope you gain a passion for learning. Your brain is the tool that you need to bring all of those dreams to fruition. I hope you come to love math and science. The world needs more women conquering through STEM. Don’t listen to the world about the colors, toys or the subjects you should like. The color pink, playing with dolls and studying Language Arts doesn’t make you a girl. Learning is a wonderful thing. You will never appreciate all the doors your brain can unlock. But some lessons are harder to learn than others.
You will learn that humans love boxes. We are a lazy bunch and boxes are the quickest way to sort through each other. They want to be able to “box” you as soon as they look at you.
Black. Girl. Straight. Problem. Angry.
Those are a few of the labels that they will pick for your box. You can never pick how someone will see you, but you can always choose how you will see yourself. Present the self you want to show the world. Embody that person. Don’t ever be afraid to be who you are or who you want to be. Screw the boxes. Labels and stereotypes don’t define you. But they will make it harder on you. So know your greatest weapons to defeat those evil boxes will always be your mind and dreams.
Know that you are a goddess here to bless the masses with your beauty as you see fit. Though they will try to sexualize you before you’ve fully completed puberty and make your curves a scandalous thing, ignore it. I hope you wield your womanhood with all of the skill of a pianist. May every chord you stroke be only of your choosing and to your liking. They will try to shame you and feed you stories of boys being boys and their uncontrollable testosterone. Know it for the bullshit that it is. When they say your curls and curves are too wild, must meet European standards to be respectable, give them a wink. Smile with teeth like razors, jagged and sharp. Show them your battle cry with a coiled twist out and warriors red lipstick. Let them know your curves are the signals to Mother Nature that we haven’t forgotten her. We worship, still, her hills and valleys deep. All her children nestled in our bosoms.
Dear girl, hear me when I say you don’t need a man or woman to complete you. Having carried you for 9 months, I feel qualified to say that you are already whole.
We pressure our girls on how to be perfect and desirable, always for someone else. We’ve willingly created and maintained another step on the slave block on which to place you.
Stand up erect so you can flatten your stomach and push out your chest. Smile girl, stop looking so serious. A woman needs heels to show off those stallion legs and butt. Makeup to highlight cheekbones and soften the marks of life and time. Earring and purse to soften her strength.
I want you to fully be comfortable with yourself. To wear anything or nothing at all, with all of the confidence of any man. For yourself. Not for anyone else. Because if they don’t like, love, or want you for you than forget them. Love yourself first, Always. This also holds true for children. You will hear tales that all women want children. That it is your primary role in life, to procreate. To take care of home, family and man. Laugh at those people. Loudly. Mouth wide open. Children, do not, a woman make. Marriage and children are a possible path on your journey. They are not the destiny, not the final destination. Do not plan your life with that pursuit alone.
When they tell you that you are pretty for a black girl, know that you, Elycia, are Black Girl Magic. The “fuck it, I’ll do it” mantra of black women worldwide. There is nothing man made capable of breaking your soul without your permission. But with that being said, there is also a myth that hurts more than it empowers. That brown bodies aren’t vulnerable. That other girls can be treated with fragility but brown bodies are to be worked and abused, they never grow tired. Don’t need protection.
Baby Girl, you don’t have to be strong all the time. It’s ok, brown girl, to cry.
When the relationships of life are a burden on your shoulders, they will point you to faith and prayers alone. Know that there is no shame or weakness in seeking professional/medical help also. Even for one filled with unicorn smiles and a soul running over with your ancestors’ magic. Sometimes the well runs dry and it is ok to take a leave of absence to refill it on a therapist couch. Or a cathartic tear fest. Or in Mommy’s arms.
Thank you for teaching and loving me.
My Rainbow Hershey Kiss!
I love you always,