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7 Women Write A 'Thank-You' Note To The Woman Who Has Shaped Their Lives The Most

...because we give each other flowers now!

Human Interest

Behind every Black woman, there's a group of Black women screaming "ayyyyyeee" and real ones know that "ayyyyyeee" is a love letter in itself. When God created the woman, He knew that we would create boundless magic and that we would empower other women to do the same. Isn't that so powerful? To think, that by you simply being your fierce, feminine self, that you are igniting the fire in another woman. Women are creators in every sense of the word and thank all of the gods for choosing our chromosomes to have this blessing.

Being that we are in the middle of Women's History Month, we wanted to be extra intentional about how we honor the women in our lives who create memories for us. Life is so delicate and gives fleeting moments that we must learn to treasure. So, we asked a few women to write a thank-you note to the woman who has affected their lives the most and this is what they had to say.

​From: Elizabeth Antoinette

Courtesy of Elizabeth Antoinette

To: Mama Shadonna

Dear Mama,

One of my favorite parts about our relationship is you telling me stories about my childhood, and the one that sticks out the most is that of a conversation with my first-grade teacher. Funny, because a lot of people that know me now wouldn't imagine that little Liz was as shy as a turtle back then, but my intellect made me shine in a different way, and apparently everyone wasn't fond of that.

Somehow this teacher didn't know what kind of parent she was dealing with and had the nerve to tell you, "She thinks she can be whatever she wants to be." And you responded to her, "And she can."

There's more to the story that I'll save for the sake of brevity, but I am so thankful for you always standing up for me and my siblings then and even now, through your example of strength and steadfast prayers. You taught us the importance of family, education, and faith, and pressed on us that it didn't matter what we lacked, we could achieve anything we set out to accomplish. You more than proved that yourself when you decided to go back to college and obtain your degree.

So, I'll always think of you to thank for your influence on me as the woman who's affected my life the most.

From: Chassidy Jade  

Courtesy of Chassidy Jade

To: Terri Meredith

I met you at a time when I was really confused about my career. Little do you know, you set me up for life. I came to your poetry events faithfully at my cousin's spot being filled with inspiration from so many creative and strong women. You were the first person to let me touch the mic without the "politics''. Once we were formally introduced, Zombii mentioned I was a filmmaker listing my resume that I was quite shy about. You looked me dead in the eyes and said, "People do a lot of things if she doesn't showcase it herself who cares..." Ha! I crawled into my 22-year-old shell and ate that because you were absolutely right! Work was slow and my writing took a back seat.

You were on me every single week asking me wtf I was doing with film. I went home every night and finished writing my first short film, Brown Ballerina, and named the main character after you. You proudly hosted my first film screening and the film went off to be selected to the Toronto Shorts Film Festival, being viewed all over the world. I also dedicated my art shows to you, which only highlights various female artists of color. You were brutally honest in a loving way.

You re-sparked my voice. You continue to motivate me and so many others. YOU DESERVE YOUR FLOWERS. I am forever grateful for your love.

From: ​Dianne Myles

Courtesy of Dianne Myles

To: Tiara Lucas (My Daughter)

My baby! Thank you for being fearless and unapologetic with your voice. You have forced me to choose what type of mom I want to be. You hold me accountable to my word, and you make me evaluate myself daily. I now understand that as a mom, you teach me as much as I teach you. You are smart, bold, courageous, passionate, and beautiful. You put family first in all you do, and I admire that about you.

Thank you for choosing me 16 years ago, today, and always!

I love you,

Mom

​From: Anita Aloys

Courtesy of Anita Aloys

To: My Older Sister, Liberty

Dear Lili,

I know I always tell you this, but I love you very much! I don't know if you are aware of the role you played in making me the woman I am today or how important your presence is to my life but I want you to know that it is significant. When mom passed, you took me under your wing and nurtured me so lovingly that even though I felt the hurt of losing a mother, I never felt like I grew into my adult years without a mother. I've always wondered how you did it, how you could be so selfless even from thousands of miles away, also while dealing with losing a mother too! I don't know if I say thank you enough, but I am really grateful.

I am so glad to have you in my life because you are a reminder that soulmates exist. You are the best friend I prayed for, the confidant that I never knew I needed and an inspiration in every way.

I am so proud of the woman you have grown into, how happy you are, flourishing in your career choices and about to get married and start your own family! I hope you know how much I love you and that no matter how far apart we are, I'll always have your back and be in your corner.

I hope I see you again soon because nine years apart has not been easy.

Your loving sister,

Anni

​From: Majesty Acheampong

Courtesy of Majesty Acheampong

To: My Mother, Pastor Brenda Timberlake

My mother was the first woman who showed me that it was OK to be bold and unapologetically fierce. Her confidence shaped my life and how I carry myself as a woman today. She never tried to hide or dim her light, Brenda was the light, OK! Her style always made a bold statement, and on any day you could catch her in sequins or a bold hue, even if it was just for an errand or trip to the grocery store. Her makeup was always flawless, and her curls always perfectly coiled.

The best part about my mom is that her interior matched the fly of her exterior. Her warmth and kindness always made an impact on others, and she showed kindness to everyone she met. My mother influenced me to show up as my authentic self at all times boldly and to make a big statement and impact on this world. My mom has been a pastor for over 30 years, so she inspires the lives of others from her pulpit. Although I am not a pastor like her, she has influenced me to use my influence as a content creator for the greater good, so I treat my platform like a pulpit of sorts to empower and uplift other women.

I celebrate my mom today and every day for inspiring me to show up bold and fierce in every way both in person and on social media!

​From: Taylor Baldwin

Courtesy of Taylor Baldwin

To: My Mom

Thank you for literally everything because all this magic wouldn't be possible without you. You gave me life but have gone the extra mile to pouring into me the confidence to be the woman I am today. You made and continue to make sacrifices for your children that I cannot begin to repay you for. Thank you for giving me the room to be myself and create my own path, even when you didn't understand. I am beyond grateful to have you as my mother, bodyguard, therapist, and everything above. I know you worried about me growing up because I was so shy and such a loner but just know that I have found myself in my art.

I hope you know I am truly happy with the way my life has unfolded. A lot of my success and life choices are because of you! Thank you for giving me the room to grow and glow in my dreams.

​From: Dominique Webb

Courtesy of Dominique Webb

To: My Granny, Doris Webb

Sometimes I think I can still smell you. I can smell the rubbing alcohol you used to douse your knees with, and the sweet peppermints you'd pop into your mouth right before telling me to hand you the remote. I miss those subtle moments. Where we just sat together while you rambled on about the neighbors, or whatever mundane thing you wanted to fuss about that day.

I miss you complaining about how my nails were too long or my hair was too long. I miss your teachings. You taught me not only how to be a woman but how to be a strong woman. You taught me the power of being a praying woman.

You taught me the power of being a praying Black woman. You taught me my magic. You taught me how to use my powers for good.

You taught me how to act with poise, speak with grace, but to speak even if my voice shakes. I can never repay you for the things you've taught me. But as you always used to say, "You do good and you pass it on." Thank you for teaching me to do good and pass it on. Thank you for teaching me how to be a strong Black woman.

What a blessing it is to have known you in this lifetime.

I miss you and I love you Granny. Always.

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Featured image courtesy of Dominique Webb

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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