Take Up Your Pen

A Choice of Weapons: The Protective Pens of Janelle Harris, Candace King and Erica Williams Simon

November 5, 2015

The inconsistencies of mainstream reporting on Black girls and women are often precarious and traumatic. Today, we honor just a few of the image making journalists who holistically and respectfully took up their pens for our sake and yours.

JANELLE HARRIS  remains a consistent champion of The Beautiful Project. Her #dearblackgirl letter published on TheRoot.com spread like wildfire, inspiring so many to take up their pens:

“Dear Black Girl,

It’s an honor to be hand-selected by a God who poured our greatness into this sun-glazed skin and these strong, sculptured bodies. I love being a black girl. I consider it a blessing and I hope you do, too.

I didn’t grow up black by happenstance. My mama, a product of the black power generation, was serious about raising a child in a household that celebrated our culture, our us-ness, our significance. Black lives mattered at 342 W. Market St. way back in the ’80s. As she planted the pride of my race in my gut, though, she didn’t really acknowledge the unique beauty and challenges of being a black woman inside that black experience. It’s not her bad. I don’t think she really even thought about it for herself, so she couldn’t have articulated it to a daughter.”

Read Janelle’s full letter here.

Learn more about TBP’s Black Girl Triptych and Self Care-exhibit through her pen.

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CANDACE KING of NBCBLK reached out with a desire to give a snapshot of how our #dearblackgirl campaign came to be and where we are headed. Grateful for the time we got to spend with Candace.

“It’s a very emotional process,” Gilmer said, “where the women who participate want to do their due diligence in giving what they can for the sake of black girls experiencing black girlhood and moving toward black womanhood, with the understanding that that thing is heavy, that thing is precarious, but we will be here for you.”

The next phase will be reviewing the letters, looking for patterns and trends. Stephens, who will be spearheading the review, said the analysis of the letters will be qualitative and undergo an organic process. Stephens told NBCBLK that some of her initial questions include: “What emerges naturally? What are some of the repeated phrases? What are some of the common topics? Who is the black girl who is revealed in these letters?”

Read the full article here!

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Erica Williams Simon took up her pen in an article on UpWorthy featuring her powerful #dearblackgirl letter and excerpts from others:

“Dear Black Girl,

I hope by now you know that you are beautiful. I want that to be a given, an assumption that the brown of your skin (however dark or light it may be), the kink in your hair (however loose or tight it may be), the curves of your body (however subtle or dramatic they may be) are all exquisite.

But your physical beauty is not your superpower. 

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I hope by now you know that you come from greatness. While you may not be able to trace every single gene back to the beginning of time, you are a part of a global family that has built societies, birthed rich art, math, science, and culture, and overcome incredible odds with a survivor’s spirit.”

Read the full article here.

Our thanks to you Janelle, Candace, and Erica!

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