This world...this world...this world we live in today is trying to destroy women...especially black women...and judging from what I am witnessing in my community and on television they are doing a great job and quickly! What does it take for black women to wake up??? We are the only ones that can save ourselves.
I am on a mission and I am starting close to home by speaking openly and honestly with my teenage daughter. She and I have always had a close relationship and although these teenage years can be trying, I consider it an honor to ensure that she grows up feeling every confidence about her self worth so that she will never allow the world to define who she is...only she will do that. It is difficult with all the outside influences but not impossible to instill in my daughter the need to show respect for herself in EVERYTHING that she does because then she will never allow ANYONE to disrespect her because she has standards. Standards... such a lost significance in today's world.
Let me start at the beginning of my journey in motherhood. I knew with everything in me that I wanted to raise a little girl and I was blessed with her in 1996. The desire to have a girl came from many things in my life but growing up with a mother that was from a generation that really didn't talk openly and honestly about everything was a great factor as well. She did the best that she could but didn't prepare me for everything that comes along with being born female in this world and what that means in relation to self-awareness and the necessity to NOT define yourself based on the world or based on men.
Granted my Mom talked to me about the classic things that come along with becoming a young lady like having a period-- how to take care of my hygiene-- how to dress and sit like a lady--etc. But what about everything else that comes along with the changes to my body such as dealing with the hormones, the sex talk and also the insecurity of appearance, emotions and self confidence. The thought of my mother having to talk to me about sex for instance could be equated to...my mother literally having an out of body experience that brought her back at a point in which the question about sex had never been asked. Talking in any depth about the other areas I mentioned for my mother was a non-issue because she thought it was a given that I wasn't insecure because she thought I knew I was beautiful, a wonderful human being and emotionally mature and self-assured. We have to be the foundation of telling our girls (yelling it) that they matter and that they have great worth in this world.
So...with my daughter I vowed that I would talk to her openly about anything that I thought she should know about herself and the world in age appropriate terms--and I am proud to say that I have continued to do so. No euphemisms were used for the body parts of females or males; no shying away when asked where babies come from and even the hard hitting self reflecting questions about why Mommy and Daddy were never married and are no longer a couple. Yep, all of it is coming my way and even though it may be painful on my part I do what I need to do to give her the truth so that she doesn't walk around in a land of make believe...which leads me to ... fairy tales.
I know that for little girls fairy tales are seen as a good thing. As a black mother, for my little girl I didn't see it that way. It bothered me that none of these books represented my beautiful little black child's image in their illustrations. I decided to say no to Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and a good many others because I made it a priority to try and ensure that my child grew up seeing herself as a primary and intricate part of this world. We discussed the fact that she didn't know what her friends were talking about when they would mention the aforementioned fairy tales and she was not introduced to any of them until she was about 10 years of age at her first sleepover. I was okay with her viewing the movies at that time because she was already rooted in the beauty of her internal and external reflection.
I speak on all this because we adult women have to take an active part in ensuring that we speak up and talk to the young girls and unfortunately some adult women who treat themselves with little to no respect. Teenage years are tough when raising kids whether they are boys or girls but I think it is more difficult on girls, especially black girls! Black women need to always speak up about the beauty of being a black woman and speak out against the deplorable representations and behaviors of some of us that are sent out around the world. That means that even when black men speak about us or treat us in a derogatory manner they need to be called out on it...it isn't right. We are the trees that bear the fruit of the future and we should take pride in that and act accordingly. Raise your standards...settling is not an option. There is a war going on against us and we need to prepare for battle by-- Getting. It. Right. Loving. Self. First!