op-ed: ‘letter to my future daughter: we need to embrace & uplift our fellow black women’

July 8, 2016


                          Letter to My Future Daughter: We Need to Embrace & Uplift our Fellow Black Women 

                                                                           By Jasmine Scott  

                             To my future daughter,

The only undertaking more difficult than living as a black man in America is living as a

black woman. Historically, we have struggled immensely, but do not let this discourage you.

You are lucky to be a black girl; we have conquered incredible feats. As I grow up, I look around

and see a lack of unity in the community of black women around me. Could we really allow the

color of our skin and the texture of our hair to be our undoing? Unfortunately, daughter, there is

a disunity of black women over matters of appearance. As times change, and we evolve as

humans, the antiquated ideas that brought about this disunity must cease to exist.

To see into my world it is important to understand that my mother has very light brown

skin, my father is of a dark brown complexion (some would say he is chocolate), and my

siblings and I account for just about every skin color in between. Colorism is just one of the

many sources of divergency in the black female community. Since when was it universal

knowledge that light skinned women are more intelligent, more attractive, and ultimately

superior to dark skinned women? I know where this stems from. Crack open a book and you

will too. This ridiculous and ignorant idea stems from the dark slaves that glistened with sweat

in the fields while the lighter slaves that worked in house and mulatto bricklayers that spat on

the dark-skinned agriculturalists. The old “divide and conquer” concept resumes; except, who in

the world are we conquering, daughter? Ourselves? Does it not seem entirely too familiar to

degrade human beings solely on the amount of melanin of their skin? Many dark-skinned

women have developed self esteem problems because their skin was no where near the same

color as that of the people that conquered them. Women on both ends of the spectrum use

words to evoke such feelings of hate. Words. The very things that make us strong. What about

“Team Black Women?” How many suicides of beautiful black girls are needed to spark change? I

hope and pray that the last traces of skin bleach and the last utterances of “team light skin”

dissipate in the near future.

“With an afro like that, all of her teachers should seat her in the back of the classroom,” a

white parent at my school once got into trouble for saying. Not to me, of course, you would

have heard about it on the news. This was a few years prior to my entrance into high school. It

is unfortunate, however, that I have heard worse from the small community of black girls at my

school on such a significant topic: black hair. There are very few of us at my school, so it is very

difficult not to notice our hair. Some of us wear our hair in micro-braids, while others run the

halls with relaxed hair. Others grace the classrooms simply with natural hair. I invite you to

peruse the internet and find words of hurt and hair texture discrimination. You will not have to

search long. One day, in a group discussion on feminism that took place in my English class, I

was forced to listen to a classmate speak about how she was superior to her black counterparts

because she had never used chemicals on her hair and had never even been in the presence of a

weave. She wore her hair naturally. Many women in the black community share this opinion. I

was baffled; I simply could not conceive a correlation between how she decided to wear her hair

and the content of her character. In my humble opinion, daughter, black women are

experiencing a distasteful sense if association: if you straighten or relax your hair, you are lesser,

inferior. The correlation between these two aspects of a black women does not exist. It is even

more sickening that these ideas are perpetuated by us. Black women now feel the need to pick a

side in the battle. Both sides continue to load up their ammunition on social media and other

platforms. I see it in my school and in the hair salon. Some may say that acknowledging

differences in hair texture could advance our knowledge of our hair and I agree. I truly believe,

however, that this could only be executed successfully if women of all hair textures, cease to

attach hierarchal value to what grows on the top of our heads. Daughter, please know that

whether you have relaxed or natural hair, you can and should coexist with women of all hair


Lastly, daughter, my mother always said that whenever you are in a position to reach

out, open doors for other black girls around them. In this day in age, it is not enough to solely

open doors, I want more for you. Reach out and embrace other black girls. Part of being unified

is lifting others up with you. Do this for your mother personally: Despite whatever artistic

endeavors you choose to pursue, please, I beseech you: do more than support your fellow black

ballerinas. As a black ballerina, I have experienced adversity. If I expressed the amount of places

I have gone to find tights and pointe shoes for girls with higher levels of melanin, would you

believe me? Would you believe me if I showed you countless pictures of me wearing dancing

with white skin colored tights? If you had the power to hire a ballerina that is absolutely

capable, do not turn her away because of the color of her skin or the kinkiness of her hair.

Empower her. Do not discourage young black dancers because of their bodies will change and

their feet are too flat. These are stereotypes. Empower black girls and black women. Daughter,

please understand, that these ideas must be eradicated to advance the community to which you



                                                                                         Your Mother

                                                                      Credits: Art- Osaze Akil