Love Letters to Black Women
It’s Valentine’s Day and Black History Month, so we’re pouring out our love to the amazing Black women—past, present, and future—who deserve to be seen, respected, celebrated, and understood.
Black Woman, You Are Love
By Jessica Baskerville
In a world where Black women are constantly scrutinized, demonized, and ridiculed, I can honestly say that I have never felt love like the love that I give myself and the love that I receive from my mom and the women that came before her. The love of a Black woman.
The love you give is radical. It changes everything and everyone around you. The way that you pour yourself into your relationships and friendships. The way that everything you create reaches out and touches us. The way that your presence and glow speak for itself.
I know that it can be hard to love wholeheartedly. Being us, especially with a smile, is no mean feat. No matter what privileges you possess, it can sometimes feel like all of the odds are stacked against you. No matter how much progress is made, and no matter how bright the light at the end of the tunnel is, it’s tiring to always be fighting. Fighting to be seen. Fighting to be respected. Fighting to not be discriminated against. Especially when there are times when no one is pouring into us.
But the love you give doesn’t go unnoticed. Please know that. Even if you think it is, it will come back to you. Please try to pour at least a quarter of the love that you pour into the world into yourself. You are loved and worthy of love.
A Love Letter to My Past, My Present, & My Future
By Sabrina Bernadel
Yes, I’m talking about you. The one who my mom tells me stories about. You’re the woman who found love and fought for it, even if it meant losing your home and those who didn’t support you. You’re the one who forged a new path in a land built on the backs of slaves but now celebrated by those first liberated. You were an entrepreneur, in a time when Black women were only meant to maintain the households of others. You weren’t ashamed of who you were. They tell me you let your hair grow long, like me, and you’d brush it with care every night. They tell me you were loud and not afraid to give strong opinions. You were joyous and didn’t let the weight of your journey pull you down. You built a foundation we all could stand on. You understood true love.
But I’m also talking about you. The one who brought me into this world but had gone through so much before I even got here. Like the one before, you too left home in search of opportunity. Barely twenty, Harlem’s newest immigrant valedictorian whose only prospects were to nanny on Park Avenue while starting a family of her own. You knew you wouldn’t let the Empire State break you, even after great loss at a young age. You worked long, hard days to put food on the table and keep us in school. We saw you in those days, even if those giving out promotions didn’t. That doesn’t mean you didn’t learn how to dance the night away or to laugh heartily at naughty jokes. Still now, you continue to give everything of yourself for us. Even in your hard-earned days off, you prioritize giving back to those you don’t know in the country you first called home. You model true love.
And of course, I’m talking about you. The one who I might be blessed to meet one day. The ones who already live on in my nieces. You are the ones whose stories are yet to be written. You are the blank and beautiful canvas we get to hold up. You are smart and gracious. You are fierce. But more importantly, you are good—you have a heart that beats strong with the blood of the women who came before you. You will know pain as they have known pain, but you will persevere as they have. You won’t be alone. We promise to fight for a world in which you are equally educated, equally paid, and equally adored. You will know true love.
Sis, I See You!
By Fatoumata Keita
I recently asked my close girlfriends what is most important to them these days, and almost every one of them said, “Being seen.”
As Black women, we feel invisible a lot of the time, from relationships (romantic and nonromantic) to wage labor. Well sis, I see YOU! I see your new hairdo, that no one might have noticed. I see that self-care day you recently took to soak in the amazingness that you are. I see us beyond our individual and collective traumas because sis, “you and I, we’re like diamonds in the sky,” just like Ms. Rihanna reminded us of this weekend as she soared toward the sky, visible in the eyes of millions.
You’re seen, always.
Dear Black Women, Prioritize Yourself
By Lark Lewis
In a world where Black women are robbed of nearly every single thing—their wages, their ancestry, their wholeness—my love letter to Black women everywhere is to prioritize yourself. It’s easy to get swept up in the ways we as Black women are discounted and discarded, it happens all too well. My dream for Black women is for each of us to carve out space for ourselves and claim it. Your morning affirmations. Your afternoon cup of tea. Your Saturday morning yoga class. Your post-work hot girl walk. Your soul-saving hobby that fuels your creative self. Whether it be big or small, new or old, I want you to know that you deserve to feel joy, to feel good, to give yourself the treatment and attention you so unwittingly give to everyone else in your life. Even if just for a moment, prioritize yourself—and don’t feel guilty about it.
When I Look in the Mirror
By Britt Young
When I look in the mirror, I think to myself how proud I am to be who I am, a Black woman. To be part of the melanated sisterhood, with our varying shades of brown, all equally beautiful. Wearing my crown with honor while admiring others who do the same, with our tight coils, loose curls, straight tresses, braids, and locs. Uniquely and masterfully created, we are. Embracing our differences and relishing in our similarities as Black people, as Black women. How proud I am to be who I am, one of us.
When I look in the mirror, I see the reflection of our ancestors. I see their brilliance. I see their resilience. I’m inspired by their perseverance and reminded that I, we, stand on the shoulders of greatness. We are birthed by and for excellence. It’s woven into our DNA. We are predestined to be trailblazers and pioneers. It’s why we thrive in spaces that were never created for us. It’s why we claim our seat at tables that were never built for us and efficaciously build our own.
When I look in the mirror, I see our future. I see our daughters and their daughters. I see the next generation of Black girl magic. It’s why we must own our light, our giftedness, and let it illuminate a path forward. It’s why we must see and celebrate the perfection in our imperfections, so they know being their authentic selves is more than enough. No need for code switching or the mask. I see the motivation to keep healing, so our scars aren’t passed on to them and when they look in the mirror, they see themselves, us, and our ancestors joyful and free.
When I look in the mirror I see us, all of us, our being and becoming which makes me proud of all we are as Black women.