“What could happen in this world if it were full of confident, talented, brilliant, bold Black girls who were positioned and prepared to make an impact?” For the answer, the team behind The Beautiful Project (TBP) turned to Black women and the power of the pen.
After seeking submissions from Black women all over the world, The North Carolina-based collective, which uses art to help Black women and girls challenge negative media images and empower them to create their own, officially launched on their blog today their #DearBlackGirl letter writing campaign. The letters are as much inspiring, vulnerable and passionate as the campaign’s mission is critical.
It’s not enough to say or write #BlackGirlsMatter; it won’t be enough until every Black girls knows and BELIEVES beyond a shadow of doubt she matters. “Too often, Black girls encounter environments and relationships that are blemished by criticism, hatred, and disrespect that create insecurities, produce thick walls of isolation, shift their personalities and rearrange their perception of their own potential,” the creators wrote on the submissions guidelines page.
Serving as a bridge between past, present and future, the letters, written by Black women ages 18 and up, share memories, experiences, testimonies, dreams and commentary on what Black girlhood means. We’ve lived through it and the #DearBlackGirl movement honors that as Black women we have something of value that needs to shared and heard.
We have the power to speak life over Black girls and equip them with the tools to live unapologetically. It all starts with a letter.
Like everyone else, I didn’t come into this world with an instruction manual and like many women and girls I wish I had more guidance along the way. Below is my #DearBlackGirl love letter. Although the official submission deadline passed on October 7, 2015, this is one letter I encourage every Black woman to make the time to write and share in your own way.
Word is bond.
Dear Black Girl,
They talk so much about you, but I am blessed and grateful for the chance to talk TO you. I almost didn’t write this letter. I wasn’t sure what to say. Do I have anything of value to share? Anything inspiring and impactful to say? Will my letter be good enough? Am I good enough?
Two words, one feeling that’s been haunting me since I was a Black Girl. Never quite knowing if I was good enough. The world I grew up in made me feel like I wasn’t. Too tall. Too skinny. Hair too nappy. Lips too big. Family too poor. Daddy too gone. I retreated inside myself. I wish someone – anyone had written me a letter to help draw me out.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned it doesn’t help to be resentful and bitter about the past. Instead, I can live a new story and focus on giving what I didn’t get. You deserve this letter. You deserve to know the Truth of who you are sooner rather than later. You deserve not to have to go through life fighting others and at times fighting yourself. You deserve to have people fighting for you and cheering you on. Trust me when I tell you there are so many women – your big sisters – fighting for you; cheering you on; praying for your elevation and protection; holding space for you; clearing the way for you; most important of all, looking up to you.
Yes, I look UP to YOU! You represent all the hope and promise of what it means to be a free Black Girl. You are that Black butterfly that can soar to the highest heights and not be weighed down by the things designed to break you.
You are the one who can know RIGHT NOW what it feels like to love your skin, your body, your voice, your smile, your hair, your ideas, your walk, your YOU. Knowing all of that is power and you can take all that power to change the world. Shoot, you can make your own world with that kind of power! A brave new world of Superhero BlackGirls doing dope s—t!
Black Girl, I want you to know that you are resilient for a purpose. Your shine is brilliant for a purpose. Trust yourself. Protect your heart. Make your physical, emotional and mental health a priority. It’s okay to cry. It’s okay to scream. It’s also okay to laugh loud as hell and dance until you sweat your hair out! All women aren’t catty and petty. Your sisters are not the enemy. The only person worthy of your completion is the person you see in the mirror. Can you be a better YOU TODAY?
Don’t fall in love with potential! (Please don’t! Lol). Trust your instincts. It’s okay to want better for your life than what you’ve been told/shown is possible. Get money. Save money. Invest money. Strive to be debt free. Learn what makes you happy. Learn your superpowers (because you have them!) You deserve to be happy and free.
You are good enough. You are enough. You are enough. You are enough. You are enough.
I love you.
Sandria Washington is 35 years old, a writer/editor hailing from Chicago, Illinois.
“To understand one’s value you have to first know what you are worth to those you love” Max