What I Want My Three Extraordinary Brown Girls to Know

by Nancy Laws

I never expected to be the mother to three girls, and I have been told often how sorry people are for me, because it will be a long, arduous journey. There are moments when I have been terrified about having to raise three daughters — if you don't understand this yet, you will one day. What worries me most of all, though, is raising three lost girls.

There are a few things I would like you to know before you turn into the beautiful women you will grow into, and before you have to face all the grown-up issues I wish I could protect you from for as long as possible. Unfortunately, that is not possible, so instead I want to tell you just how capable you are before the world tells you the opposite.

My three, beautiful brown girls, you are the light of my world, and my inspiration for this passion I have for helping other young black girls.

I need you to understand just how strong you are as women of color, and what it means to be a woman of color. You will hear a lot about what it means to be a black woman — some good, and a lot of it bad. You will hear a lot about what a black man should be to you — some good, and most of it bad. In those moments, when you sit back, confused, and striving to find your own definition of what it means to be a black girl in America, I want you to think about a few things.

Choose to define yourself.

When I think of a black woman in America, I think about Harriet Tubman, a woman who risked her life to help her fellow man, by finding the strength to push past that part of us that comes naturally for most — self-preservation — and instead, doing what she knew was right. I think of Coretta Scott King, who was not only a great wife to a great man, but a force to be reconnected with; she not only fought for racial equality, but for women of all colors.

Despite what you may hear, there are women of color today that are just as strong and powerful as those that came before them. These women, unfortunately, are not the women you will see representing your race in the media, but it is so important to me that you know, being a successful black woman in America does not mean having to demean yourself, or throw your values to the wayside.

There is a power that comes from overcoming.

There is a power that comes from overcoming. A power that, because of those that came before you, you may not truly be able to understand. The black woman has been the portrayed as the angry maid, in charge of keeping her masters' children happy and loved while her own were sold, beaten, and raped. We have been the devourers of men, overbearing, and without maternal compassion. And, of course, we have been the Jezebel, an idea that reigns absolute even today.

The women who make a difference are those who refuse to be defined by stereotypes.

My greatest fear…

My greatest fear for you, and for every young black girl today, is that you will lose yourself by allowing the media to define what it means to be a black woman.

One thing I have learned about the power of being black is that we are mentally resilient. We have been labeled as savages. We have been raped — mentally, physically, and emotionally. We have been told that we are incapable of staying together as a family and as a people… and yet we are still here.

There are so many of us proving that we are more than capable than anyone could ever have imagined. Your mind is the greatest weapon that you will ever wield as a black woman — not the curves of your body, nor the quickness of your tongue. It is your mind that will open the doors that society will attempt to shut before you.

Remember, God blesses you so that you can bless others, not for you to hold onto for yourself. Be the change that you hope to see in the world.

Find love.

And when it comes time for you to find the love of your life, most likely the only definition you need to have of a black man is your father, because you will hear a lot.

Genuine love is hard enough to find today as it is, the last thing I want you to have to worry about is skin color. But never feel as if you have no options with a man of color; you have three great examples that you can look to.

There is no such thing as a perfect man; just as well, there is no perfect woman.

We all fall short.

I have grown to understand that love is about growing together — inspiring and encouraging each other to be better, even in our worst moments. A great man will protect you, encourage you, teach you, and support you through the good and the bad. If you have children, he will love and care for those children just as much, if not more, than he does for you.

Your father is the man he is, because he was also raised by a great man. My father, your grandfather, is a great example of learning from your mistakes and overcoming. These are strong black men who are married with children, as well as wonderful, strong and loving men. Remember that when you are told that there is no such thing as a good black man.

I pray that when the boys start calling, you remember your worth. As your dad would say: "You are a Laws,” which means that you have his strength, confidence, common sense, and good looks. But above all, remember what it means to be black and beautiful!

You are loved, always.

This piece was originally posted on Afro-Chic Mompreneur and has been published here with permission from the author.

Photo: Shutterstock

Nancy Laws is a mother of four, virtual assistant, blogger, and Brown Girls Advocate.  She is president of Her Mind Rocks, a non-profit that empowers young black girls to create their own definition of what it means to be Young, Black and a Woman in America. Follow her on Facebook.

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