How are you doing today? I ask because I imagine many people assume that because you are achieving such great things, or because you walk around seemingly unbothered that everything is just fine and as your big sister I know that is not always the case. Recently a colleague of mine, Thai -Huy Nguyen, wrote a letter to all of the students of color in high school. If you are in high school and thinking of going to college I suggest you read it when you get a chance. It is because of this letter I was inspired to write a letter to you.
First just let me say, I see you little sis. Even when it seems like you have become invisible or that no one wants to hear your story, know that your big sister sees you. I know recently it has been challenging, maybe even exhausting being a Black girl in this world.
You have probably heard about the despicable things members of predominately White fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha called members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. on the campus of University of Connecticut. You also probably heard the alarming and disturbing remarks made to an all-women’s convocation concerning rape by the recently resigned president of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
You may have seen the ridiculous Facebook posts a staff member for a congressman made regarding the dress and personality of Sasha and Malia Obama. And in the midst of all this you have been encouraged and have chosen to stand with your hands up in solidarity for the unjust slaying of Mike Brown, yet wondering who was standing up for the slain spirits and violated bodies of Black girls like you.
Maybe you have heard women like me dismiss you because your skirt was a little shorter than our comfort level and you were confused because you thought we were your big sisters. Or, maybe you heard your big brothers rally for how this society profiles and demonizes Black men, and were perplexed when those same men were deafeningly silent when your oppression was the topic on the table.
Every day you are faced with a world that enforces the notion that your brown body is a commodity and that your beautiful voice is not worthy of being heard. I know that is tough, disappointing, and even draining. But, little sis, I am here to tell you that you matter. Your voice matters and you are valuable. You are amazing. You are not perfect and that is okay. And while we are at it, it is okay not to be strong all the time. You are human and though you are awesome, you are not superwoman. Do not let people convince you that you have to be. Even though it is tough out here little sis, keep achieving. Keep becoming the best you that you can be. If you are in college, get that degree. If you have a talent or trade, master it.
If you are thinking about going to college, I hope to see you walking across a campus one day. While you are picking schools, make sure to pick one that knows the worth of your mind and spirit and that it celebrates them unabashedly. I know some of you want to go to college to be in a sorority like your big sister and her friends. I have heard you and your friends when you thought I wasn’t listening.
As your big sister I think that’s awesome and I encourage you to pursue all of your dreams until they are fulfilled. But let me say this, no sorority, no school, no group of friends will determine what kind of woman you will be. The woman you choose to be will determine who you are. Make finding out who she is a priority. Find out who you are, and once you find her hold onto her. Don’t let her go and don’t sacrifice her for anyone—not anyone!
Be a woman that I or one of my friends would be proud to call our soror. I am not saying this to you to encourage you to conform to these prescribed notions of what makes a “respectable” Black woman. I am saying have your own mind, strive for excellence in whatever you do, speak up, be passionate, stand up for something (even if that something is you), and live for something greater than yourself. More than seeing if you get to wear sweatshirts with letters, your big sister wants to see you manifest into the “you” which you are becoming. That would make me prouder than anything.
Little sis, you are so full of light. You are bursting at the seams with beauty, love, power, presence, brilliance, spirit, life, and the very best the universe has to offer us. You are a gift given to us. Please forgive your big sisters if we have forgotten that. Forgive us if we have taken you for granted. Forgive us if we have relegated you to be part of the background scenery for larger agendas. I know you are looking to your big sisters for guidance in navigating this whole Black woman thing.
Keep us accountable, let us know when we are letting you down, and let us know when you need our voices and our actions to speak up for you and spur you to greatness. Truth is little sis, we need you as much as you need us. You remind us of why we fight so hard. When we lose our way, it is the light that shines from you that guides us home. Keep shining little sis. Don’t let anyone ever steal your light. Don’t let them convince you to dim it either. Just keep blinding the naysayers and non-believers and know that your big sisters have your back.
In the spirit of Harriett, Sojourner, Alice, Mary, Angela, Audre, Alice, Patricia, bell, Nikki, Frances, Beverly, Lauryn, Janelle, Me’Shell, and Melissa,
Your Big Sister Felecia