Things I Will Tell My Daughter
I am scared of raising a Black woman in this world.
I am fearful of the men who will attempt to treat her like cargo, like a thing to be played with; disposable. I worry that when she leaves me, there will be times when the stars will not align for her goodness, and others will attempt to take advantage of her. The world is cold, and I will teach her and hold her and I will try, try to protect her, heal her, from hurts and heartaches.
I recently heard about a case of a man who punched his girlfriend in the face one evening, strangled her to the point of unconsciousness, and proceeded to call her a black bitch. This is not the world I want for her. I have seen this news cycle before. I know this story. I will tell her how her grandmother once had to fend off her grandfather with a brush, or how she slept in the living room to be close to the exit in case running was the only choice left to keep her body intact. I will remind myself, when looking in her eyes, what the world will want from her, and attempt to take from her.
The world will attempt to make light of her, frighten her down dark alleyway corridors in bellies of streets discolored with disdain for her well being.
Her being is what I will want to shelter. I will want men to give up their seats for her. I will pray that she will keep her hair curly or straight and neither will affect her in an interview, because, why should it? That she is not her hair, or curves, or any label that they will use to affix meaning to her. I will wish that her first home loan will be approved and no, they will not question her kinks or bronze skin, sunshine with hints of God sparkles dancing about.
That her speckles of sheer shine are samples of saccharine.
I will hope her dreams will not be curbed because of the razors in her mouth, those sharp words her mother and I will have infused in her to keep herself whole when the world will try to separate her from her heart. I will bold and italicize her. She will know she is undefinable, undeniable.
I will teach her the history of her people is tattooed in the soil of her bones. Stories of Trujillo and Tubman, of saints and spirits and Santeria — of Selassie and southern drawls and West Indian folklores, and dances, dances of salsa, zook, soul, that will inhale her, steps with pulse open to the ways of her self. And we will cast her against her stereotype. Because she can type and draw out the stereos in her, the music and noise necking.
I will tell her about treehouses and bird nests and that gravity is everything and nothing to a God, and that she can fly, and I will dive in front of bullets and moving machines built to break her. That her body, her brain, are only shells of her freedom, that 3/4’s anything is nothing at all.
I will tell her paradise is in the length of her arms, the ankles of ancestors, the cut of the cloth that drapes the earth in her. That her cape is made of her abuela’s apple smile, that the light and blood moons are ocean waters and are moved by her and her alone. That the future is not a Drake anthem, but it is her, the alpha and omega. That Renisha and Sandra will be as common a speech and name uttered as footsteps and sauces and spices catty-cornered in cupboards nicknamed for all the power names have. That she has a meaning, and to not confuse the brittle of the egos she will crush with the love of others who will be sincere when they will try to hold her.
Her pedestal will be high and mighty, and her melanin will be like water to the fiery things orbiting our spheres. Bedtime stories will be read under star-filled canopies, and we will nickname new planets for her.
The nuances of her cheekbones, her jaw, the way her chest will elevate to take in air, rooms, space, love, and time, will not be taken for granted. I will teach her to give and take, to listen and learn and speak when she feels her voice needs the notes.
I will teach her that the flick of her wrist will incite riots, that her grandfather walked away from a job when he was made to feel less than Black, and that he fought for a country that gave him a number but took away his name. I will bleed for her and show her that a man and a woman both wince when the weight is heavy.
That daddy wants her to be whatever she stands for. That she needs no definition, or declarations, that she can be president or senator or mother or flower or spaceship or super hero or avid comic book collector or candle flame thrower or home. Yes, she can be home to villages and thunderstorms and cosmos. Her mass, I will tell her, is mighty, massive, and holds weight. And that she was birthed by blossoms and creaky radiators and born into the sky and out of a womb breaded with the sacred sound of her heartbeat.
Tell them I told you so.