Advice to Young Girls from an Unapologetically Black Muslim Feminist.

As a woman, a man, or whatever title that you ascribe to yourself- or choose not to, opening and reading this article despite, or even because of, its title is one step among the many that you will take as a part of your feminist journey while alive on this Earth. Welcome honey child, we’ve been waiting!

The cause is for you, you are the cause. It is worth dying for but even more importantly, it requires you to live an unapologetically vibrant life.

1. Your Experiences are Real, Believe in Yourself

It’s possible that your parents and entire community treat you, and have since you were a young child, in a noticeable contrast to that of your brother, cousins, and every other male community member. You were possibly parentified and ushered toward more, or different responsibilities as you grew up. It could be that you missed a range of opportunities, and adventures, that you had your heart set on because you were a girl and continue to be a woman where you learned that that wasn’t your place, or that your family and community felt it just wouldn’t be safe for you as a girl. Riding a bike in your neighborhood, taking a trip with your school class, and other missed opportunities find a way to mirage into others as you will, or have, grown older and they do so on a larger scale. It is possible that your body was sexually violated, or shamed in the most subtle of ways like your entire menstruation being shunned and secreted, and your pad made sure to be hidden from view. Honey, your experiences of confusion, of analysis of unfair and biased treatment is real. You aren’t crazy, it isn’t all in your head, you aren’t making any of this up and probably couldn’t even if you wanted to. To be told otherwise and continuously face the emotional, psychological, and even physically violent consequences of resisting inequitable treatment, and blockages of your self actualization as an autonomous human being, is unimaginably difficult. Women within the system of patriarchy have internalized the trauma of sexism, and have generations after generations, had to adhere closely for their own limited participation, approval, survival, and recently a point of anti-Western cultural rhetoric, to the extent that they then become fierce gatekeepers of what has become facts of life. Unless you have supportive people around you who can understand your experiences, you are the only one who is living your reality as far as you know.

2. This is Your Life Journey, Take Ownership

Lovely light, full of soul and whit, let this be your battle cry. This life has been given to you by your Creator, your Beloved, and it has not been given to any other person on your behalf. It has not been given to you to take and give to someone else, your breath is yours, every curve and inch of you has been given to you as a Divine miracle with all sorts of wonder involved. Obedience, servitude, and slavery can come around and be described in a variety of rosy ways by those that it benefits and your waking up in taking personal responsibility for your own life is one of the greatest steps towards living your truth. It is understandable that your agreement to an exhaustive amount of sexist treatment has been in the legitimate pursuit of survival in a world where approval means being able to have a roof over your head, clothes to wear, food to eat, and social belonging. As you grow older it is imperative for you to take the ownership of your self into account.

Take full ownership of your pain, of your happiness, of your spiritual life, of your physical and emotional space, of your financial independence, of your passions and goals, of your boundaries, your life purpose, of your freedom, and your joy.

3. Believe in Sisterhood, and Seek it in Sincerity

Where are your sisters?! Look around and really take a look at the paths that have been paved in your name even before you came to existence. Someone, somewhere, wakes up every morning so that you have that much more access to realizing your capacity towards complete autonomy. There are beautiful girls and women right across from you who have similar struggles that you do, and yet why doesn’t she reach out if she does? Competition, gossip, and all other forms of externalized self hatred are deeply rooted in keeping women from tapping into the truly powerful nature of sisterhood. Do not let this be you darling, make small efforts in as much as you can to break these echoes of disdain by taking steps toward uniting efforts and marveling in the butterfly of your sisters- out loud, on the timelines, on the comments, in class, on the job, with her there or in her absence. Actively give birth to the opportunities that surround all of you in healing of the pains endured, in the bounty of your deep knowing and love for each other.

4. Reflect! Reflect! Reflect! Should I write it again?! Okay, seriously though.

Taking a look in the mirror when you’ve gained an extra amount of loving on your thighs can be way too scary when you have internalized notions of what your body should look like, which is- hello- still me! It is, of course, tremendously more frightening to take a real look at your own self during every moment of your life’s path, but it is crucial to the development of your life lessons. I never say the word mistake because I believe that a part of our experience here on Earth is to have experiential learning in all of its glory. You either win, or you learn, and obviously learning leads to more winning, so isn’t that a win?

5. You are Worthy of Your Own Love, Respect, Time, and Energy

In many overt or subtle ways and across every conceivable culture in the patriarchal world, a girl is readied to be the best possible choice for a man to pick when she is old enough (sometimes not even age matters too much) to be a wife and a mother to his children.

All things Education, Girls, Leadership, and back to Africa.

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