As a woman of colour, the recent #metoo campaign left me somewhat conflicted. I was not certain how to address it. I decided to write a letter to my daughter, Alex, a young woman who is about to turn 22 years old. The letter is not just to Alex but all of the young black woman out there who need to be heard.
I am writing you this letter in response to the recent #metoo campaign on social media. I have learned that the #metoo hashtag was started by Tarana Burke, a black activist from the Bronx, in New York. It did not become popularized until a white actress, Alyssa Milano, started to tweet it.
As a black woman, I think this is significant because it shows how being a woman of colour you have to fight to have your voice heard.
I am writing this letter because I pray you never have to deal with sexual harassment but if you do, don’t be afraid. I will be by your side no matter what. There are women out there in the world who are not celebrities, who don’t have a voice and who have no one to turn to for help.
Not having a voice or a network of support would be devastating in a situation of sexual harassment. But if ever a situation like this should arise, I want you to know that I will support you.
It’s hard being a woman, especially a woman of colour. You have to work harder. Don’t let this discourage you.
As black woman growing up in this world, you must be prepared. You may not always get the recognition for the work you do, but don’t let that hold you back. Let that encourage you to keep going on strong.
Keep your head up.
If someone does something to you that you don’t like, don’t be afraid to stand up and say something.
As a black woman, I have felt the need to be heard. I’ve learned to speak up. Do not fear being opinionated or too loud.
Be loud and have your own opinion. Do not place yourself in a box. Be proud of who you are.
Stand up for what you believe in. If it’s wrong, do your best to make it right.
As a mom, I believe my role is to guide you and keep you on the right path. I might not always be there but I hope you will hear my voice in the back of your mind, encouraging you to keep going.
There might be days when you feel you just can’t take it. On those days, it is especially important that you stand up and be proud. Speak up for those women who can’t.
Speak up for the women who are sexually harassed daily. These are the people the #metoo campaign really speaks to but there is no voice being given to them.
There is no space in the crowded media spotlight and no light being shone on their lives. If there is a march or protest, it is covered very briefly, a mere glance and back to the celebrities at hand.
Their spotlight is a flood light that makes it hard to see others. So, for the many young women out there like you Alex, I want you to know this: we hear you. Tarana Burke hears you. And #metoo.