Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of Jordan,

Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of Jordan,

Rania Al Abdullah is the beloved Queen of Jordan. The outspoken critic of honor killings has championed women and children’s rights on the board of the United Nations and through her highly-visible platform. This week, Al Abdullah penned a beautiful letter to girls around the world. It was her contribution to CNN’s “Girls Rising” project.

Her missive encourages girls to renounce gender roles and forge a path toward their life’s purpose. The letter reads in part:

Some of you will be familiar with the childhood rhyme, “What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice, that’s what little girls are made of.”

Marketing and stereotyping combine to have us believe that you’re also made of pink dresses, pigtails, dolls, ringlets, ribbons, bows and tiaras. That you like cupcakes. That all you will want to be are wives and mothers. That you’re more “inclined” to the arts and “better suited” to caring professions like teaching and nursing.

And, maybe, that’s true for some. But my daughter Salma teaches me every day that there’s so much more to you — and for you.

Salma is 13, and I can count, on one hand (in fact, on one finger!), the occasions she’s worn a dress — and they’ve never been pink! Dolls always stayed on the shelf. She’s happiest dribbling a soccer ball past her brothers and scoring goals or building model airplanes with her father. She dreams of being an engineer. That’s my Salma; that’s why I love her.

So, when I think about girls rising, I think of girls like her and her sister, Iman. I think of the millions of courageous girls all over the Arab world and beyond who, every day, summon inner strength, surmount barriers and make a difference in their communities.

Al Abdullah also urges powerful women to mentor girls, so they can see what women are capable of. Her concluding sentence is poignant and captures the spirit of the Girls Rising campaign: “If one girl with courage is a revolution, imagine what feats we can achieve together.”

The queen’s letter is addressed to girls around the world, but it is catered to those of the Middle East. Al Abdullah’s words prompt me to consider the plight of girls of color in black bodies.

The woes that face the Quvenzhané’s and other black girls differ from the plights of girls in the Middle East. Little black girls must exist in a world that undervalues them and renders their pain invisible.

I offer this for those little black girls:

Dear little black girl,

You are amazing. There will be times when those words will seem like a lie. You live in a world where sometimes you’re not enough. You’re not intelligent enough. You’re not worthy enough of accurate media images. You’re not pretty enough to be loved, valued and appreciated. None of that is true. You hail from the lineage of queens. You are enough.

You are enough.

You are enough.

You are enough.

And whenever that’s in doubt, there are legions of women that will affirm and uplift you because we’ve also been little black girls. We know the pain. We see it, recognize it and will offer enough love to heal it.

You are enough.

United in love and sisterhood,


Chime in Clutchettes. What would you write to little black girls?

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