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Love Freely: A Love Letter To My Unborn Child

Motherhood

To my future children,

You're not real to me yet. In fact, I'm just reaching an age where I've truly and wholly began to think about who you might be in this world.


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These thoughts are especially evoked when I'm forced to witness the bigotry and hatred spewed in our world. Most recently, they were prompted by the backlash that two athletes received after footage was released of one teammate and friend was rumored to be consoling the other by holding him closely and soothing him.

Perhaps, that's what society had to tell itself to digest that affection from men or perhaps we simply fail to get all the facts. Who knows? But what I do know is that it was a sweet moment that was turned into a mockery and insult due to the toxic masculinity that's so thick in the air, men can barely see their truth, much less speak on it.

With this in mind, I vow with my every breath to protect you from the judgement and harsh nature of this world. Sadly, all my efforts to shield you from others and, at times, myself (your mother won't stop being flawed in older age) might be thwarted.

So here's what I need you to understand: there will always be someone somewhere with something to say about how you live your life. And if I'm anything like your grandmother, it might be me from time to time.

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You're allowed to respectfully point this out, should I ever be the one to hurt you with my judgment. But also know that the only thing that counts, is you. If you know in your heart that you are being and constantly working towards the best version of self, then carry on with your head held high.

There will be people who tell you that as a man or a woman you are fated to proper socialization. That's all a bunch of ... you know what. But I'm in church as I write this, so I'll let you fill in the blank. As hard and as long as we've fought to minimize discrimination of those who look, love, or act differently than what society or the black community has deemed acceptable, I know with every part of my being that it won't end with my generation or the next. Unfortunately, this type of bigotry may never die.

I can't stress enough the importance of loving as openly, honestly, and without limits.

In 2018, men are still criticized and disregarded as soft and gay amongst other things when they show emotion that are not "manly" enough for the rest of the world. But don't be afraid to be any of those things. Be soft, be gay by both definitions, be shy, be kind. BE LOVE and give love. Cry, smile, and allow yourself and others the spectrum of emotions that all human beings are entitled to. For you are any and everything that YOU desire to be, even in a world that claims to know your heart based on dated and toxic standards of masculinity.

Should you be a little girl, open your heart and mind to boyfriends (there will be many frogs before the King) who show their strength through vulnerability, by respecting all women in the way they should their mothers, and in protecting you as fiercely as you will protect him.

I wasn't always so wise and I'm still working on embracing a man (perhaps your father?) who is not the complete heart and soul of toxicity. Don't demand that he or any other man "man up" out of your own socialized ignorance.

Regardless of your gender. Regardless of who you come to be, my child, I believe this is how you find love that loves you back in the way that you deserve.

You may not appreciate this until you most need it, but I do urge you to appreciate my words at some point. Until we meet, I'll be manifesting everything that sets you up to be the person I want you to be. Your own person.

Love always (even in my moments of imprecations),

-Mom

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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