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. We can’t wait to hear your voice.
For #dearblackgirl submission guidelines visit our Get Involved page.
Dear Black Girl,
I am a true testimony of where the grace of God and the support of a loving family can take you to. When I started my journey to becoming a pediatrician, I soon discovered that there were many unseen obstacles– but the good news is that there is nothing that you can’t do with the help of God. Lessons I learned along the way:
1-Your gift will make room for you.
Each of us have gifts and talents that make us unique. We are all different but uniquely wonderful. Find out what your passion is and nurture it. Do what you need to do to develop your gifts and talents. It takes commitment. I knew that I wanted to be a doctor but I also love music. So I thought why can’t I do both in college? It wasn’t the traditional route but it worked for me. I was able to take pre-med courses while getting a degree in music.
2- You have to push through.
There will be many things that get in the way of you reaching your dreams. Sometimes you may feel like giving up. I remember that after my sophomore fall semester of college I was ready to give up pursuing medicine because I was given an unfair grade in biology. A friend of mine told me that the only thing that should keep me from pursuing my dream is reaching it. He was right and although I thought that one grade would keep me out of medical school, it didn’t.
3- Always treat everyone the way you want to be treated.
My Mama once told me that “ you don’t have to like everyone, but you need to be able to get along with everyone.” I have found that giving people respect (even though I didn’t like them) open lots of doors for me.
4- Your name is more important than any amount of money or treasures.
My Dad often said that a good man’s word was worth its weight in gold. I have learned to be careful of what I commit to doing. However once I commit, I do my best to fulfill my promise. Being someone that people can count on to do what they say that will do, will open many doors for you.
5- Love is given, trust is earned.
Often we expect people who say they love us to automatically trust us. The truth is that we have to earn that trust. Trust is built little by little. Just like a piggy bank or savings account- every time you do something trustworthy, you deposit more money into your trust account. Likewise you should love all but trust few. Don’t believe everything people tell you, believe what they show you. If they show themselves to be a person you can trust, trust them. Don’t trust them because of how they look or how popular they are. You deserve to have them earn your trust.
6- Love can wait, lust can’t. As a pediatrician the saddest thing I see is that young girls don’t think that their bodies are something special to be given only to a person who sees their specialness and has committed themselves (for real) to them. Words are empty and once you’ve lost the specialness of giving your body to another person, it gets easier to share it around. But remember you are special and your body contains your mind and your spirit. So when you share your body physically you are also sharing your mind and your spirit. Who wants to share themselves with a jerk or a user? Save yourself for someone who thinks you are the best thing that ever happened to them and is willing to wait until you get married to have a physical union.
7- Know who your real friends are.
When I was accepted into an Ivy League college, my best friends (who were not black), said things like “she only got in because she was black.” These were my classmates who I had taken honor classes for many years. I thought they were my friends! But friends don’t say things like that. They are happy for you. They want the best for you. They will help you get where you want to go. If you have “friends” who never ask about your family or really care whether you are happy or sad- LOSE THEM! It’s better to have one real friend (even if it’s your sister or cousin) than be popular with a bunch of fake friends. Be careful who you call friends.
8- Forgiveness is for you.
When I was in medical school I, along with my other black classmates, experienced overt racism. That is, racism in your face! Everyday in the classroom or on the wards it was clear that I was not good enough just because of my skin color. By the grace of God, I got through that experience but it took many years for me to really forgive them. But one day I realized that by holding on to that unforgiveness, I was actually hurting myself. Those racists had gone on with their lives without thinking of me. So the only way I could go on with my life was to forgive them and forget them. Wow that was a freeing moment!
9- Prosperity comes step by step.
The truth is that we need money to survive and although money won’t make you happy, the absence of it will make you sad. I have found that those people who get rich quick because of extraordinary talents or gifts or those who have wealth given to them don’t really appreciate it. I have learned that rather than place my thoughts and my goals in attaining wealth, that being consistent in saving leads to a comfortable living. Rather than worry about being rich, I can think about how I can bless others.
10- When you have a supportive and loving family, appreciate them.
I know that everyone doesn’t have the support of loving biological parents and family, but family are those folks who surround you with love and are rooting for you the whole way. Don’t take it for granted. I lost my Mama when I was 32 years old and she was the best mom in the whole world! I knew that growing up, but I didn’t express that until I got older. Give thanks to those folks who are sowing into your lives right now. Don’t wait!
Finally, my best advice to you is to put God first. I know you may have heard this a lot but it’s true that when you really seek to know why God put you here with the talents and gifts you have, you will have clarity of thought and the ability to make decisions that will help you fulfill that purpose. It’s important to stay close to God through reading His word and praying to him. He never leaves you, but sometimes you leave Him. The good news is that you can always go back to Him and He will always be there.
Dear Black Girl, My prayer is that you will be a loving and successful woman!