For the Girls

#dearblackgirl: Blackness is not always a unified voice.

September 15, 2015

Last fall, we asked women in our community to pen letters to young black girls based on their own experiences with black girlhood and womanhood. As you work on your #dearblackgirl letters around the world, we will be sharing the words from this first wave of women who offered to put their heart’s on the page.

For #dearblackgirl submission guidelines visit our Get Involved page.


Dear Black Girl,

Your skin is how you are called, although you vary in complexion, shape, profession, taste in books and movies, beliefs and ideologies, political parties, degrees of creativity, spontaneity, thoughts on religion and spirituality, interests in science and the arts, gifts of singing, dancing, creating, exploring, hopes for significance and visions of the future. The scope of the public imagination would have you represented as one thing or another, although you are an amalgam of beings, at once a multitude of sensibilities, and your blackness is not always a “unified voice”, but in the paraphrased words of Zadie Smith, “sings from its own hymn sheet.”

You are diverse, complex minds, and although your pain, your joy, your need, your empathy, your creativity, and your intellect are not legitimized by the world around you, they are greater because they are shared among you, and so you are invisibly bound to each other, extending your consciousness to perceive and experience the world together.

The world will undermine your consciousness, but it needs you to hold a mirror to its incongruously white authority, to remind it that it doesn’t exist in isolation. In fact, your consciousness is a comfort to the limits and isolation of the world’s imagination, an imagination seeing “through a glass, darkly,” and a protest to its indolent and myopic comforts. Your consciousness is a challenge and a gift.

Your consciousness is not confined but freed by who you are: black, brown, beautiful.


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