A State of Emergency for Black Girls

Lately, I've become overly aware of little black girls between the ages of six to eleven years old. Little black girls with thick, short or long braids. Sometimes in their hair, they have a dozen rainbow colourful clips or multicolored beads, or tiny braids corn-rowed tightly into beautiful masterpieces. Their hair parted four million little ways with heavily greased scalps. They have thick beautiful lips, flat cute noses, and soulful big eyes. Their chocolate brown skin glistening, yet often they have forgotten to lotion ashy elbows or knees.

These little black girls remind me of myself. And I look for me in them--search to find myself. When our eyes meet, I smile. If they smile back, I often compliment them on their beautiful hair, or tell them what a pretty smile they have. Mostly they seem shocked that someone has even acknowledged them, much less dared to call them beautiful! And the darker their skin, and the thicker or shorter their hair, the more shocked they seem that someone has called them beautiful. They coyly look away and I know that they are questioning if I am indeed telling them the truth. Is it possible? Are they really beautiful?

In their various, shapes, sizes and shades that range from cinnamon brown to blue black, I loudly declare and express how beautiful they are. I tell them that they are beautiful because I vividly remember when I was their age how I wanted someone to call me pretty, or beautiful. How I ached for someone to just see me. How I wanted someone, anyone, to just notice me. That attention, if and when it came, was unwanted because it was from grown ass men who should have known better than to stare at my budding breasts. I wish that someone would have told them that there was no need to keep their lingering hands on the small of my back for so long. Their hugs seemed to crush my small body while their probing eyes left my nine-year-old self feeling naked and confused. No amount of baby fat could protect me from these men...

Related: UnPretty: My Personal Battle With Vanity and Insecurity

Yet I was eager to rush out of puberty to lay with men who whispered to me during unemotional, robotic sex how beautiful I was. In my own need to be desired, wanted and told that I was beautiful, I stayed in beds that were not safe spaces for me. I stayed in "relationships" that did not feed, or nurture me. Showed up more bruised and fragmented than whole, begging for someone to patch me back together -- who would do this without asking for my soul in return. Desperately, wanting someone to hold all my jagged edges in their hands, hold onto me even if i made them bleed? I was bleeding and needing to be loved.

Thus, I wish I could declare a state of emergency. Little black girls are in need of critical care! Our care! I often wonder why as womyn and especially black womyn, we cannot see that little black girls need our approval and our attention. Black fathers, do you tell your daughters that they are beautiful? If not, I will warn you without any doubt that another man is dying to whisper something in her ear. Our little black girls need to be praised, honored and admired. They should be told daily that they are beautiful, and if they are given those messages early and often enough, they may start to believe it.

Because if you are told that you are beautiful, and if you are held with the upmost care, I believe you may not be so eager to jump into bed with the first person who tells you that you are beautiful and that you are loved...

So that is why when I see little black girls I smile, look them deeply in their eyes. I want them to know that someone could love them. Love them unconditionally. Love them as they are. Love them safely. My wish for them is that they don't have to stand in front of a mirror longing and wishing for lighter skin, a straighter nose and smaller lips.

I want them to know that they don't have to have "good hair" in order to be valued. I want to hold all their jagged pieces in my hands, to let them know that they are beautiful and loved. I see you.... because i see me...

I love you. I love you fiercely because I am learning to love me and I sometimes ache to gently kiss your ashy elbows and knees.

trey anthony is an actor/comedian and the acclaimed writer of "'da Kink" TV show and hit theatrical play. trey is an established motivational speaker and the founder of Girl Doing Better, a professional virtual, mobile, life coaching service for womyn, with a special focus on womyn of colour. For more info check out www.treyanthonystudios.com or to contact trey, please email trey@treyanthonystudios.com.

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