I am raising my daughter to be free.

To defy your expectations of who she should be to be accepted.

I am teaching her to be unapologetically Black and to do it as the sun, shining bright and unconcerned with who’s eyes she shines into.

I am teaching her to love her culture, her hair, her skin, her music, her ability to speak and transition from an office, to a newsroom and a back yard barbecue fluently, easily and magically. I am teaching her to honor that. To honor that despite the fact that they tried to strip us of the languages that were our birthright, she comes from the definition of the word endure. To honor the fighters that from nothing still managed to create a tongue of our own.

I am teaching her that “ghetto” is a word for people who ENVY her. Her body, her braids, her clothes, her light. That her people, in the “ghetto”, the place that they sent drugs to destroy us, the wall street that they burned to the ground when they couldn’t compete, and the small pocket of lands where we are over policed and undervalued influence every single aspect of this earth, effortlessly.

I am teaching her that to be different and to be her own, is a freedom all in itself. And to let NO ONE. No man, no woman. Try and make her feel small for being a leader that this world emulates at every turn, and for resembling the very mother  that gave birth to us all..

I am teaching her that if her strength becomes a threat, to be strong anyways. If her voice is too much for some to speak anyways, if her aura is too bright, to shine. ANYWAYS.

ALL with bonnets and scarves over our hair like my own mother taught me to wear. To protect her golden coils that are nothing short of Christ like. Smelling of coco butter, Fresh Oils and incense. In the African garments of our mother land, an oversized jersey like Janet, or in the freshest Armani suit like Olivia pope. In pearls like an AKA, or dripping in gold like the founders of hip hop or the queens of Egypt that came before her.

To go wherever and to find success however she pleases, no matter if she is singing like Bey, laying down the law like Thurgood, Dancing like Debbie, or saving lives like Marilyn Gaston, she will know that every path the light touches, that has been illuminated in melanin, belongs to her. That she is the descendant of the very hands that built this land, and the ladder to the top, yea, her people built that too.

I am teaching her to demolish every single negative trash stereotype about Black girls and Black lives with her existence alone. To stand proudly in the faces of the teachers who will tell her she can’t, the “friends” who will try and silence her struggles, and the community members that will pretend they don’t see her. With her head held high, 10 toes down, and a voice that will MOVE. MOUNTAINS. I am teaching her that her life will matter by ANY MEANS NECESSARY. That she IS the light at the end of all tunnels. Shackle-less, and in the absence of inhibition.

I am raising my daughter, to be free.

Daishaundra Loving-Hearne is no stranger to the arts or the power of it. She is a leader of the Tri-Cities youth, a CEO of Urban Poets Society, and an advocate for Black Lives Matter.  www.daidreaming.net

Photo by Ivana Cajina on Unsplash