Sunday, May 23, 2010

To the Women of My Family

To My Sister, My Daughters, my Nieces, my Grand-Nieces and Cousins and all of my other female relatives:

I have tried to figure out to say something to you. I have never known how to say it. The fact that I did not know how to say it was complicated by the fact that it took me so long to realize what I wanted to say to all of you. It has to do with pride and learning to feel and have pride, like Dorothy Dandrige. Her pride and self-esteem were threatened when she tried to achieve her goal. So much so that she had to leave her country of origin.  But I believe she had pride and self-esteem because she grew up with it, despite the times and the resulting tribulations for women of color.

Unfortunately, Mother never made me proud: of who I was, who I am, and who I would become. She didn’t have the ability to understand that her strength would eventually become the strength of her daughters. She really was a power house, but always minimized what a black woman could do. Ah, but she could dress! I have such fine memories of her when she really decked herself out: her hair done up like no not one, black dress that hugged her curves, Chanel No. 5 wharfing around her; a necklace drawing attention to her ample bosom, and heels making her taller than Daddy – but he never minded.

But the idea of education as the way to make your way in the world, as told by my father, resulted in trials and tribulations he could never have even fathomed. He always saw us as the most beautiful women in the world. He didn’t seem to understand that we were not the best, the most beautiful, the absolute epitome of womanhood! We all must admit that Daddy had his lapses and dalliances, but he saw all of his sisters, daughters, granddaughters, nieces, and all of the women in his family as the best.

Today, I watched a show that would never had been possible when I was a teen. It was called “My Black is Beautiful”, shown on BET. It was all about black women realizing that no matter their size, their features, their dress, they were all beautiful. It was only a half hour and I wanted more! I can’t tell you how this made me feel. As I get older, I have continued to have a real need to feel lovely, beautiful and desirable. So I went to their Web site and found a elegant manifesto. To my family of women, whoever and wherever you are, I hope you will find something in this.

 From the color of my skin, to the texture of my hair, to the length of my strands, 
to the breadth of my smile
To the stride of my gait, to the span of my arms, to the depth of my bosom, to the curve
of my hips, to the glow of my skin...
 My Black is Beautiful.
It cannot be denied. It will not be contained. And only I will define it.
For when I look in my mirror, my very soul cries out,
My Black is Beautiful.
And so today, I speak it out loud, unabashedly, I declare it anew.
My Black is Beautiful.
Whether celebrated, imitated, exploited or denigrated. Whether natural from inside
or skillfully applied.
My Black is Beautiful.
To my daughters, my sisters, my nieces, my cousins, my colleagues and my friends,
I speak for us all when I say again,
My Black is Beautiful

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