I sing to my daughter in my best Beyoncé voice: “Brown skin girl / Your skin just like pearls / The best thing in the world / Never trade you for anybody else.” I sing these words and hum these tunes consistently, because it takes a lot of repetition to reassure my own brown skin girl that she truly is the very best thing in this world.
My beautiful chocolate girl, my daughter, my heart. How do I teach her to love herself in today’s racist society? In a world where she’s encouraged to dim her radiant light? Where people who look like us are killed simply for the color of their skin? How do I teach her to trust in her own capabilities, gifts, judgements, and just know beyond the shadow of a doubt that all of who she was purposely crafted to be is more than enough? How do I teach her to love herself against all odds? To lift her head up high, and rest assured that brilliance, strength, virtue and worth is what runs throughout her veins?
How do I teach her that her melanin skin is more lovely than the finest gold? How do I teach her to know that even if she’s the only chocolate girl in a room she enters, that she is infused and equipped with everything she needs to be present in that space? How do I teach her to love her skin, hair, features and persona without ever having to second-guess if she’s good enough?
I reassure her daily that her tresses are perfectly coiled and wonderfully made. I intentionally glorify her magnificent skin.
“Mommy, can I get my hair straight?” she asks. “It looks nicer that way.”
“Mommy, I know we are Black, but I’m caramel, right?
“Mommy, I know Black is beautiful, so why are some girls considered better than others based on the color of their skin, or the type of hair they have?”
These are some of the questions my daughter has asked me, since she was very young. These words brought me to the harsh realization: That it is truly crucial for me to enlighten my Black daughter about just how incredible her existence truly is. Her questions made me aware of the sad reality that to some individuals, being Black is not considered to be great or good enough; in fact, it’s not even valued at all.
But then, as a parent, I have to ask myself my own questions.
Am I confident in my skin? Do I celebrate myself and who I embody totally? Do I love and adore my skin and curly thick hair just the way it was made? Do I value my voice, stance, worth and Blackness? Am I completely confident being a Black woman in this world?
Honestly, and sadly, I have to answer “no” to some of those questions.
Our children are constantly watching us. They are taking notes, learning lessons, and picking up life skills whether we can see it or not. So what message are we delivering? What are we saying to them, even in those times when we don’t utter a word? What blueprint are we creating for them? Are we instilling virtues and gems that will contribute to their wholeness, self-confidence and overall wellbeing?
This is how am I teaching my Black daughter self-confidence: It begins with me.
I am constantly striving to embody the model of confidence that I hope my daughter will embody, too. A graceful yet strong woman who is whole and satisfied with every aspect of her self-image. A woman who loves the skin that’s she’s in and is not afraid to lift her voice. A woman who is poised and does not look to today’s culture, society or beliefs to form her identity. A woman who is unapologetic.
We look in the mirror with our heads held up high, and we affirm ourselves daily.
Do I fail my mission at times? Of course. But then, I vow in my heart to simply get back up again. Because it is so crucial for me to infuse self worth, self love, confidence, and strength into my daughter‘s being — and I can only do that if I start with myself. I affirm my daughter daily. I remind her of her resilience, intelligence, and wit. I teach her that greatness is huge part of her genetic makeup, and that her skin color is pretty magnificent. I remind her not to allow the opinion of others to influence what she thinks about herself, and to never apologize for being who she was destined to be. I present visuals of other astounding Black women in various spaces and walks of life. We look in the mirror with our heads held up high, and we affirm ourselves daily.
To my beautiful chocolate girl, and to all the chocolate girls of the world: Whenever you feel broken, less than, or not worthy, please remember just how exquisite, divine and astonishing you are.
So here I am again, still singing. In my best Beyoncé voice. “Brown skin girl / Your skin just like pearls / The best thing in the world / Never trade you for anybody else.
We love these children’s books by Black and brown authors.