Harper's Bazaar (UK)
WORDS OF LOVE Ahead of Black History Month, Jourdan Dunn, Kubi Springer, Cush Jumbo and Mary Bello write letters of hope to their young children
In honour of Black History Month, we invited four women to draw inspiration from Maya Angelou’s essay collection Letter To My Daughter and write missives to their children. Within their heartfelt lines, they reflect on the importance of heritage, share hopes and dreams, and pass on advice to the next generation
My love for you runs so deep. It’s my mission to instil you with the greatest examples of affection, nurture and care. But I worry that this world will break your kind and loving spirit. Your innocence has been shaken by the recent cases of injustice and brutality against Black people. At times, I’ve felt helpless finding the right way to comfort you while I myself am in pain – afraid, hurt and angry. Like me, occasionally you will lose faith in humanity, but it will be restored again and again.
Speak your truth and be true to yourself. There will be those who want to silence you. But I urge you to please be unapologetic. Live with no limitations. Do not let fear hold you back.
Thank you for being a great teacher – you have taught me the true meaning of unconditional love, patience, acceptance and the art of listening. In return, all I ask of you, Riley, is that you are never afraid to be great and that you always walk towards your power. Self-sabotage is something I know too well. I’ve dimmed my light so that others can be comfortable while I’m uncomfortable; I’ve downplayed my achievements in the fear that they will provoke jealousy and even anger among friends. I now realise that in doing so, I was creating more harm than good for the one person who really matters – myself. It’s our birthright to step into our greatness. You have too much to offer the world to hold any of it back. Self-love is mandatory to live your best life.
Be proud of who you are. Embrace all of you and remember, you are enough. Love your golden skin and embrace your golden-textured curly hair. You once said you wished you were as dark as your Uncle Antoine and had hair like Uncle Kain, but our people come in different shades, and that’s wonderful to see. Always appreciate the beauty in yourself – and others – and don’t forget, all Black is beautiful. Know your history and cherish it, but don’t let it stop you from taking risks on opportunities and pursuing your dreams.
If I could fight all your battles for you, trust me, I would. You know Mummy will be on the frontline, ready to go to war against anything and anyone for you. But I can’t be on the battlefield with you at all times. You have to feel and you need to learn. It’s part of your journey. I remember the first day you felt rejection: it was during your football try-outs, and you were so excited about the possibility of joining a team and playing every weekend. But that excitement washed away as soon as you hit the pitch. The other boys were faster and more advanced, so you immediately felt discouraged and gave up. At the end of the trials, the coach told me that you hadn’t made the team, but that you should definitely try again next time. You walked towards me, with your head low, and said: ‘I’m not good enough, am I?’ It really broke my heart to see you disappointed, but I knew it was a valuable lesson. I shared with you my own experiences of rejection when I was trying to get into modelling. The first agency I approached said I wasn’t right for them, and I remember feeling so unworthy, but I believed in what my Mum used to say to me: ‘If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.’ When I told you that story, I saw glimpses of hope and determination in your eyes and ever since then, you have not given up on yourself. I’m so proud of you for that.
You have nothing to prove to anyone – not your ‘Blackness’, masculinity, wealth nor success. Your net worth goes beyond your material possessions in life. You owe people nothing – but you do owe it to yourself to be happy and carefree and set this world on fire. Be a joyful Black boy in a society that wants to portray you in a different light. Some will want to label you because of misperceptions based on racial hate and pettiness, but only you can own your narrative, only you can create your own story. Your future is so bright, I’m excited to witness it. It’s all yours for the taking, Ry… You’re Black history in the making.