In The Girl That Was

My letter to myself will be in 4 parts in pivotal points in my life. The one will be when I was about 5. -JBHarris

Dear Jen-Sue:

You are a quiet and marvelous and sensitive child. You are born into a family that really doesn’t know how to handle this. You will be loved and supported, but not completely understood. But what I want to tell you something that you may not totally understand now.

But I want you to look down at your hands. These things, these marvelous things that hang at the end of your wrists. I want you to know that these are tools. I know that you are struggling to hold that big, ugly red pencil in your kindergarten class, but this is key to what is going to save your life, Jennifer. It truly will.

It is, it will be these 26 letters that will allow you to tell stories, not just read them. It will get you mentorship from teachers, your parents will push you to write, and you will discover this is a call much, much later.

But what I want to tell you, Jennifer, is that you will always be the peculiar one. And that’s okay! I want you to know that that certain chutzpah that you have? That moxie? You’ll learn that it is a thing called Black Girl Magic. As you grow up, you silence will be thunderous!

But right now, what I want you to do is be strong, dear baby girl. I want you to know you are valued. I want you to know you are special. Your Daddy is hard on you so the slings and arrows of the world won’t stick. Right now? I want you to enjoy him, and understand that even with his gruff, he would fight the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse along with the entire host of Gehenna over you and your sister.

I want you to remember how his hand feels when he takes you to school everyday. I want you to remember how he looks at your mother. I want you to remember every hug. Every kiss. Every time he said he loves you. I want you to hide this in your heart–they will be your secret weapon as you walk through the world.

You have so much in you, little one. Your mother and all your maternal aunts know this. They will be some of your biggest support–and will also question you. But they will give you a roar that is unmistakable!

You are a not a princess.

You will be a Queen and a force of nature.

Never look down again.


You (age 38)

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