Chicago (CBS) — During a business trip to Houston, Nicole Jackson of New Jersey saw a request on Facebook for women of color to write letters to girls of color. Sitting in her hotel room one night, the thoughts she wanted to share with a young black girl she has never met sprang to mind.
Started by Gary, Indiana native Tamara Winfrey-Harris, this project, called Letters to Black Girls, seeks to amplify the voices of black girls and women.
Below is the full letter:
Good Evening Darling-
I write this letter from a hotel room in Houston, Texas, a long ways away from my small apartment on Halsted Street in East Orange, New Jersey. And I don’t think, even as a child, I imagined a world bigger than that town full of hopeful hopelessness. I couldn’t see past the concrete or crack needles that lined the path to where I now find myself today.
But here I am, writing to you my darling.
I am writing you, wishing you well in a time that seems anything but to little girlsthat look like you, like us.
I write you without knowing your story or your path but I am willing to share my own. I am the young flower that bloomed from the broken glass and concrete of the hood. The daughter of the genius welder and engineer turned crack addict, he died before I could appreciate his brilliance. The child of two parents infected with HIV before there were medications to treat it, one died…the other forever devastated.
The daughter of a valedictorian who was accepted into every Ivy League she applied to but the isolation of being educated in a predominantly white school took its toll and she left too soon. She studied biomedical engineering, I now work in HealthTech and I am working to ensure your experiences won’t be the same.
Life is complicated and nonlinear, learn that now. There are many paths to the same destination so if Plan A fails, falls back on the rest of your alphabet.
I am a high school dropout but write you less than a week after interviewing with the head of a doctoral program in Massachusetts and sometimes it’s hard to catch my breath and take this journey in because there was a time when I thought that all people with Dr. titles were physicians but in a few years I’ll be one.
I write you because in you in those veins carry the legacy of a dozen generations waiting for you to arrive to your own occasion.
Do not fear your own brilliance and beauty. Do not hide it or dim your light because others complain of the glare. If you feel like you are bigger than something, that’s because you are.
I wish I would have written you from the beaches of St. Lucia or from the waters of Loch Ness in Scotland. I wish I could’ve taken notes during my commute to work in Silicon Valley or during lunch breaks while looking out on the bay in San Francisco. We should’ve been pen pals a long time ago, I’m sure there would’ve been much to discuss.
But know you were there with me.
Know you are here with me.
Know that you will be there for every keynote address at any given tech conference. You will be there when I commit a line of code for a new app concept. For every new process built to support mobile and application development. For every bit of research as a doctoral student and as I walk across the stage to receive my degree and credentials.
You are not alone, I see you.
You are capable.
You are powerful.
You are worthy.
And I will wait for you…
Build an infrastructure for you,
Keep the path of your journey lit for you so you’ll never have to worry about finding your way again.
In moments when life seems most uncertain and you are most afraid of your future, think of the caterpillar who does not know, when it sees a butterfly flying above, that it will become one too. You are a part of something bigger, so accept the uneasiness in your gut when you desire more.
Rise to your own occasion and you’ll be met with equal company.