A little over a month ago, the incredibly talented and gracious Lynya Floyd, an Essence magazine editor and friend, asked me to write a poetic piece about the beauty of black women, and I happily obliged. Of all the assignments I get during the course of a month, this one held a specific significance to me, not only because I'm a black woman, but because I'm the mother of two chocolate girlpies who need to be told—often and in as many different ways that I can muster—that they are special, beautiful and loved, no matter what anyone else says about it. The piece was, by far, one of the best assignments I've had in quite some time; there was no reporting, no rewriting and no waiting for experts to get back to me. Just pure, beautiful words, one behind the other—a collection of praise for all that is good about us.
Here, a little peek at my piece, "The Way We Move," which opens the incredible "Why I ♥ Being a Black Woman" feature in the July issue of Essence, with the lovely Jada Pinkett Smith gracing the cover:
Can't nobody move like us. Or hold it down like us, even with babies on our hips and the world on our backs (always on our backs). We are fly and we stay fly.
Insist too, that you do the same with that shotgun-to-the-back insistence. We got expectations, see? And when you’re not holding up your end of the bargain, we’ll cut you quick. With our eyes. With our words. Oh, please believe: No matter how sweet, we’re all capable of getting ice-cold with it— can sear you like fire, and then, on a dime, make you feel all bubblin’ brown sugar warm. Hell, we can deliver all of this in the same sentence, if so moved.
It’s a skill. We swath it in adoration, add a dollop of “for real for real” and a tip of “I know you know better,” then bake it in prayer, reserved for those we love hard and strong. We fall down on our knees for you. Even when you don’t realize it. Or deserve it. But especially when you need it.
... We may be a little loud. A little mean. A little strict. A little tart-tounged. A little big. A lot extra. But, church hand held high, this, this is what makes us incredible.
This. This is why I love being a writer—why I thank God everyday not only for this gift he's given me, but the ability and time and wherewithal to make it do what it do. I'm going to rip my piece out of my issue of Essence and frame it for my office. And then I'm going to buy two more issues so I can tear out one copy each for my daughters' memory boxes, so that when they look back on this space and time, they'll remember just how incredible, intelligent, delicious, strong and fly their mother thinks they are.
They need to know this.
And remember it, too.
We all do.
Tell me, what do you love about being a black woman?
[ESSENCE gathered 9 of our favorite actresses to talk about why they love being a Black woman. Ledisi, a MyBrownBaby favorite, loved the concept so much she dedicated an exclusive song, "Real Woman," to the project. Check out the video below to hear both the song and what the stars had to say about their love for black women.]