An Open Letter to Brown Girls and the Women Who Love Them

by Fila McMillan-Antwine

When I was a brown girl I was curious – about myself, the world around me, and the endless possibilities that my heart knew were available. When I was a brown girl I was coiled – with a head full of thick, curly springs and wavy locks that danced around my head. When I was a brown girl I was confident – in myself, my abilities, my gifts, my beauty, and my necessity. There was no question about what I would be when I grew up because I knew I had the luxury of choice. It was my right to be anything I wanted to be and nothing could stop me. Years later I would realize that something could stop me and that is exactly what would happen.

Somewhere along the journey from being a brown girl to becoming a brown woman – I changed. My curiosity would become fear and social obedience. My coils were replaced with Dominican blow outs and long, silky, straight strands. My confidence turned to doubt that paralyzed my dreams of being, doing, and having what I actually wanted. I had been separated from my feminine power through a personal disconnect. I thought I had it all together. I looked the part in my designer clothes, expensive bags, and pretentious attitude. Living a life that I thought was full. A life I thought I had chosen to live on my own accord. It would take a new brown girl to wake me, shake me, and make me recognize my true face in the mirror.

For our second child, my husband and I decided we wanted a girl. We had our boy and only needed to complete the circle with a daughter. I dreamed of what she would look like – beautiful, brown, and bright eyed. When it was finally time to find out the sex of the baby I became nervous for the first time during this pregnancy. Everything up to now had been properly planned and controlled. At this point, it was out of my control. I laid on the examining table with a water-filled belly while the sonogram technician smeared cold jelly and pressed strongly. “Do you want to know”, she said. “Yes”, I replied with an awkward smirk on my face. “It’s a girl”! I looked at my husband, we smiled, and I relaxed my shoulders for the first time all day. In that moment I felt a force of energy run through my body. I realized that I was in control the entire time. Even though there were universal forces stronger than me working - my desire, intention, and unwavering belief in my brown girl’s existence - had made her real.

The reveal had made me cognizant. It reminded me of the power I once had. I wondered where it had been all of those years. Why had I allowed myself to live without it? I prayed and meditated and daydreamed about my why. I sat in bed at night staring at the ceiling looking for answers. There was a time when my life was only magical. A space where everything I wanted, I willed without effort. I needed to know what had happened to that part of me.

The answers were in a place I didn’t want to go. They were buried in a pit that I thought I had no need digging through anymore. But, it was in that deep darkness that I would find myself again. When I was 11 years old I was “touched” – sexually molested for the first time. The assaults would last for about a year or two. It’s difficult to remember exactly when they ended because so much of that portion of my life was buried deep within my gut. It was then that I had gone from a bright, silly, outgoing child to a quiet, withdrawn, uncertain girl. The feelings of self blame and disgust took up prime space in my heart. My voice was drowned out by threats from an attacker who was supposed to be my prominent protector. In came the confusion about men, about sexual behavior, about my innocence, about the sanctity of womanhood, etc. I wanted to leave that space and never return. Eventually I would find the courage to do that. I would physically fight back and protect my body from a man who aimed to rape me of my divinity. Years later I would continue the fight and lift the heaviest weight of my life by revealing my years of abuse to family.

I knew that my power had been left with that 11-year-old brown girl. I had to go back to her and heal her in order to heal me. She was now occupying my sacred womb space where my baby girl was growing. For my own sake I needed to recover my strength. I needed to reconnect to the power of my essence. I would have to relive the gory details of everything that had happened to me. So, I reached out to my attacker. I wrote him a letter filled with all of the hate, hurt, pain, and shame I had carried with me for so many years – through so many relationships. I stood up for that brown girl who could not stand up for herself all those years before. I released every negative emotion there was inside of me. I purged myself of every single energetic trace of him and I gave it all back. No longer would I carry his burdens. No longer would I allow him to occupy corners of my life, my body, my mind, my heart, or my soul. I did it for myself and for the sake of both of the brown girls living within me. Today, we are all living more powerful, purposeful lives.

We are all brown girls. Even when we have grown beyond girlhood – we are girls at heart. My message in writing this letter is to remind all brown girls and women of their power. In addition to make sure that the mothers of brown girls realize what they are teaching, sharing, and giving to their daughters. They are affected by our every thought even before we have met them. The womb is a sacred place - one that prepares a child for life with humanity. Be mindful of what you let reside there with them. The world can teach them unkindness, fear, and doubt – fill them up with love, promise, and hope before that can happen. Remind them of their divine feminine power and be reminded of yours. Your life is your gift. Enjoy it as it is intended for you to. Will your wants. Leave your mark. From one brown girl to another…

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Fila McMillan-Antwine is the author of Curiously Coiled

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