Women's History Month

The author cradles her baby girl at her breast. We also see the words Raising Anti-Racist Kids
Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs

“Love Yourself With A Fierceness & A Passion” — A Letter To My Black Daughter

“This Women’s History Month, I’m writing you this letter to share my dreams for you.”

Dear baby girl,

It’s Women’s History Month and I love that for us. I love that you and I get a whole month to be unapologetic about being women. But can I be real with you for a sec? I celebrate you every single day. I do! I am the proud mother of a beautiful Black daughter, a celebration of all that I’ve dreamed of, the audacious gift of my ancestors, the bold carrier of a smile that lights up every corner of our home. This Women’s History Month, I’m writing you this letter to share my dreams for you. I know all the parenting know-it-alls say not to burden kids with your dreams but, as a Black girl (yes, including as a mixed race Black girl), I want you to take these dreams as wings to embolden every step of your path in this world. I want you to take them apart and use them to sew together your own destiny, your own journey.

I hope every time you read this letter, you feel enveloped in warmth, love and gratitude. Kind of like a heated blanket in the dead of winter (I know how you hate being cold!).

Firstly, I dream of limitlessness for you. I want you to feel and know that there are no bounds holding you back from your dreams. You can and you will. This world will try to create walls around you. It’ll try to tell you that as a Black girl, you need to speak, dress, act, and be a certain way to appear as close to whiteness as possible. It’ll try to judge you because of the color of your skin and tell you that you can only access particular spaces, jobs, or opportunities. So many structures and systems are set up without you in mind and they’re designed to keep you out. You know what I want you to say when anyone tries to box you in? “NOPE!” Own that word and use it often.

Secondly, I dream of joy for you. It is your birthright. Do you know that your great-grandmother and I used to lie in bed with you and just stare at your smile, your joy, your energy? All the happiness you held in your little body delighted us to no end. We would tickle your toes just to see that toothy little smile burst onto your face.

Even though she’s no longer with us, whenever you giggle, I can feel my grandma near us, delighting at your joy. That joy is yours, baby girl. Take it. Own it. Let it find a home inside you.

Thirdly, I dream of rest for you. Rest is heavily politicized, my little love. Knowing that your body and mind need to take a break — and having the ability to do so without being punished economically and socially — is a privilege awarded to people depending on their racial and socio-economic standing. As a Black girl, society will try to glorify you being a workaholic. It’ll tell you that you need to prove yourself and give 500% because the powers that be are expecting you to not be enough.

Tell yourself all the loving words that you would want someone else to say to you. Treat yourself with utmost care and compassion.

I want you to know that who you are on the inside, how you treat the people close and far from you (the people you have nothing in common with), and how you treat yourself is more important than what you can produce and how much money you make. I want you to prioritize rest the same way you would work. Rest unapologetically and often. Rest with your whole body, your mind included. Rest for yourself and for those around you so they are empowered to do the same.

Another thing, I dream of love for you. And I mean that literally. I dream that you fall in love with yourself. I want you to love yourself with a fierceness and a passion. Get to know yourself in a different way every day. Take yourself on walks. Talk to yourself. Be gentle to yourself. Love on yourself. Tell yourself all the loving words that you would want someone else to say to you. Treat yourself with utmost care and compassion. Feed your body and your mind with the foods that you want to nourish it. Surround yourself with people that treat you like you treat yourself and don’t settle for anything less.

Black women are the most marginalized, the ones that are not believed, the ones who are the most passed over, ignored, and sidelined. When you love on you and prioritize yourself, this bold contradiction will teach you not to accept anything less from this world.

Often, people in power will make assumptions about your potential.

And lastly, my love, I want you to dream. Even now that you’re a kid, I want you to always imagine what your best dreams, your biggest wishes are and I want you to envision them fully because they just might become real. A room full of stuffies? Dream it! A huge bowl full of butter pecan ice-cream? Yes!! A life filled with lots of places to scribble on? Love that for you. You want to grow up to be an artist, a unicorn, and a cookie tester? It’s possible (there are unicorn costumes!).

The ability to dream big and expansively is a gift that little Black kids are robbed of. So often, from the school-to-prison pipeline to the “advice” of misguided adults, you’re told that there are only certain options at your disposal because of the color of your skin. People will make assumptions about your potential. Often, people in power will make assumptions about your potential. But I want you to hold on to your right to dream because the world we are building together will make space for every reality you envision and want to fight for.

My darling, I love you without limits and without bounds. Take this letter, and use it to line your dreams with the understanding that I will be here, lifting you up and helping ensure that you, my little love, are the realization of your and my boldest dreams.

Your mama,

Tabitha

Raising Anti-Racist Kids is a column written by Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs focused on education and actionable steps for parents who are committed to raising anti-racist children and cultivating homes rooted in liberation for Black people. To reach Tabitha, email hello@romper.com or follow her on Instagram.