I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since your birth, seems like it was just yesterday . . . eagerly awaiting your arrival on February 23rd, but I was pleasantly surprised when your long anticipated grand entrance was on the 26th instead. I know now that this was merely divine confirmation that you would always do everything in your own time – and that is precisely what you have always done (smile).
In life, there is no shame in operating in accordance with divine order, in fact this is a powerful testament to being in perfect alignment with the Creator’s will for your life. So, as I affirm your always silent, observant and innate light-filled persona, I salute the official end of your teenage years with all of the meaningful, sentimental value that your formal welcome to adulthood deserves. And in the tradition of honoring each revolution around the sun as an opportunity to thoughtfully reflect on the past, revel in the present and to positively project upon the glorious future; please allow me to engage the symbolism of our sacred African inheritance and annual Rites of Passage tribute tradition, by offering this public post. Jendayi – to you for whom I eternally “give thanks” please accept these heartfelt mother to daughter, well-intentioned wishes as you usher in the 20s, with just 3 of the major things, I wish I had known in my 20s:
1. My first wish is that you find God in yourself and love her fiercely – You are the divine essence of all creation and a pure reflection of God. As a Black woman, all life springs from your loins and because you are the progenitor of the earth, there’s nothing new under the sun. Indeed, you/we/us have always been here and shall now and forever BE. Both your sun-kissed melanin and your natural crown provide an external affirmation of your beauty and an infinite connection to the divine. Beautiful, powerful, resilient, dipped in honey, emblazoned in bronze and intricately laced in gold. Goddess woman: she, me, you, we, us have an inner knowing which guides us through life. Trust your intuition, quiet voice, spirit of discernment and spiritual foresight because each of these virtuous gifts will come naturally to you and they will serve as both divine guidance and a pertinent reminder that the power of God resides in (and is always accessible), to you.
2. Secondly, my wish is that you don’t sweat the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff) – The world will unfairly label you as an Angry. Black. Woman. for your resistance to internalized oppression. Resist and fight to end oppression wherever it exists and by any/all means necessary, anyway. You will be regarded as too Black and too strong for your fierce defiance in the face of injustice in many forms, not the least of which is institutionalized racism. BE proud, unapologetically Black and strong anyway.
Your confidence will be misconstrued as conceit and your timeless, effortless, impervious-to-aging, Black woman beauty and creativity will be regarded as marketable commodities in a world which objectifies Black women as only sexual, creative beings to be widely appropriated and exploited. Don’t acquiesce to the norm of being valued in terms of your proximity to a false, European standard of beauty. Know that the unique components of your African beauty ARE the standard by which all other cultures seek to glean inspiration. Recognize that true beauty is cultivated within and must be maintained through positive self-talk, healthy living, a balanced/wholistic and active lifestyle and a non-negotiable regimen of self-care. BE fully prepared to exhaustively counter the world’s objectivity, by maintaining your unique voice, agency and power as distinct and protected from all external, commercial interests (often obfuscated from your view). And BE confident, beautiful and wildly creative anyway.
As a Black woman you are the quintessential paradox of normative Whiteness, as such, your very being is the direct antithesis to the age-old construct upon which oppressive power is wielded. So, as a means to force your identity into the stereotypical role of subservience which maintains the status quo and makes other people less threatened by your divine light – They will expect you to dance to the rhythmless beat of their off-color jokes and tunes, to scratch where there’s no itch, or to laugh when ain’t a damn thing funny. I implore you to exercise your intellect, power and outspoken nature to purposefully shine your light while resisting the familiar practice of shrinking as a means to placate their need to feign superiority. Ensure that your presence adds value in every context, and always shift the very atmosphere in order to give 👏🏾 them 👏🏾 life 👏🏾. Because ultimately it is you, as the Black woman, who has truly given life to all of humanity and honestly, why should we mess with our powerful legacy? They will suggest you are a troublemaker when you deign to rock the boat in privileged, White spaces and when you repeatedly albeit successfully challenge the status quo. BE scholarly, resolute and outspoken anyway.
Your intellect, unmitigated strength and outspoken nature – especially in academia, the workplace, the world of politics and the larger social environment – which all too often reward mediocrity – will undoubtedly be deemed as arrogance. In these arenas, openly regarded as White spaces, they will accuse you of being toxic for merely existing and for successfully navigating the treacherous terrain of their familiar domains. I admonish you to continue speaking truth to power and to courageously engage in truth telling directly to the faces of persons who need to be enlightened by your unique contributions to the world. I encourage you to BE your authentic self in these spaces, and to highlight your intellect, unmitigated strength and outspoken wisdom nonetheless. They will condition you to literally hate yourself. They will expect you to subscribe to their flawed, myopic definition of who (and whose), you are as a Black woman. Seemingly all of society will work tirelessly to convince you of your second class citizenship. They will try to convince you of your own lack of self-worth and suggest that there’s not much to love about you. Yeah right . . . Love yourself fiercely, without limits or restriction and then extend that love externally to the rest of the world anyway.
There will be studies and popular opinions to suggest that there are no legitimate prospects with which to fall in love and whom to ultimately marry as your preferred ideal mate: a Black man. Humph! Find and fall deeply in love with a powerful Black man anyway. Black men are our natural, regal counterparts – and God’s generous gift to humanity – in the majestic form. Why would we succumb to demonizing them along with the rest of humanity. Don’t fall prey to this insidious trap. They will try to convince you of your perpetual and inescapable destiny as a single, Black mother struggling alone with your children against insurmountable odds. When in actuality, the Black Power inherent in our vibranium strong, Black family structure is perhaps the greatest threat to the perpetuation of White supremacy and world domination by the 1%. So, against the odds of a powerfully convincing, preconceived agenda and national narrative against the aesthetically beautiful and genetically indestructible family unit of: a Black man, woman and child – Work hard and succeed at maintaining a solid Black family unit anyway. I look forward to the opportunity for you and your loving Black husband to welcome the next generation of gifted and immensely talented Black children, and to similarly love and nurture them into their historic greatness by rearing them in a happy, economically prosperous and spiritually stable, African-centered household armed with the love and rigorous knowledge of self that wisely secures their future(s).
3. Finally, my wish is that you use the wisdom and mortal sacrifice of your ancestors along with the blessings of: a close relationship with God, loving relationships, your college education, life experiences, voracious reading and limitless travel to be a lifelong learner, grow in grace and wisdom, appreciate your many blessings, expand your worldview and to showcase the God within you to the rest of the universe. I pray that you be empowered in all things and continue setting goals for yourself. Know that heartbreak and unforeseen obstacles are inevitable sureties in life. Despite this, you have the power and unmistakable obligation to unlearn your own mis-education, to reach, teach, glow and grow so that you might fulfill your divine purpose in the world. There is no rush, for you walk in the mighty footsteps of your royal ancestry. And it bears restating that there’s no shame in operating in accordance with divine order and being in perfect alignment with God’s will.
Never doubt that you can change the world my love. For Black women have always, will continue and shall forever change the narrative by virtue of simply being ourselves. Happy Birthday Jendayi! Welcome to the ranks of powerful Black womanhood, we collectively #Salute you on the exciting journey ahead.