My notifications buzzed, a text. Pictures from my daughter. She’s been spending the summer finding her voice behind a camera’s lens. I love to see her thoughts. As I scrolled, there was my niece, my first baby. They’re at the beach. I paused and grinned at the beauty that is she. And I thought…
I have lived through so. many. of her moments.
Her right nows.
Like the one where she refused to eat anything but soft boiled eggs, feeding her was joyous during that time. And when she couldn’t say her t’s, so every truck that we passed she would say “look tia, a fuck”, she didn’t even notice my laughter.
And at that moment, what I was seeing… I just hope that she can see that. I know that I, as a Black woman, went through this period where I felt like maybe the universe had gotten it wrong. There was a time when, You’re pretty for a Black girl was actually a compliment that I would accept. I hadn’t quite figured out what to do with all of the… difference that I’d been given, it takes a while for many brown girls to realize the uniqueness that is your presentation to the world is actually a stunningly beautiful gift, an expression of the divine herself. In fact, you feel like you should probably hide it. Smother it. Suppress it. Smooth it’s corners. Soften it. Turn the saturation down on its brilliance. and the messages from the world reinforce that.
Until one glorious morning, you awaken.
You look at the thickness of your lips, the shade of your brown, the kink of your hair and a smile starts to form at the corners of that enviable pout as you nod your head to the universe, your mother, and your father in thanks for the creation that you see before you. I hope that she has experienced that day.
I hope that on that day, as she stared at those braids in the mirror until her vision lost focus and her mind began to drift, she imagined those braids in a cute bun, a few strands untucked framing the striking shape of her face, the gift of our ancestors. I hope she heard the noise in the distance that blew into her mind to snatch her train of thought,
Dr. Jones, we need you in here.
Then, the cry of the orphaned toddler that called the Kenyan orphanage that she was spending the summer volunteering at home, who now claimed her as his mama.
Did she feel the brush of the devotion of motherhood across her heart as she imagined herself kneeling down to enfold him in her love? I hope that as her eyes traced the outline of her mouth, she grinned as she imagined herself being brave enough to taste langsat and durian as she weaved through the markets on the streets of Phuket, beaming that at 18 she was able to save and send herself to Thailand. I hope that as she gazed at herself, and she wiped her eyes in disbelief, and rested her hands on her cheeks and squeezed to try to contain the joy of the possibilities, I hope that she saw that her life is a literal nebulous cloud of opportunity, the truth of which is is entirely up to her.
You are the divine experiencing itself in one of numberless forms. You are quite literally God’s imagination. Whatever you want is yours and everything that you are is perfection.