Dear future, one day, more than likely, grandchildren:
It is the year 2011, a time you will probably have a hard time imagining (much like my own grandmothers’ youth in the 1930s)…actually, you probably have access to some video footage of me now. If so, please ignore it and anything I may have said or done crazy on the YouTube. Your Nana is not a drunk and they totally used technology to make me look that way. Anyhoo, I am hoping to still be alive and kicking when you read this but if I am not, I hope that your parents have done an adequate job decorating your room with pictures of me, because I was very pretty and I am hoping that you got some of these good Lemieux/Mitchell genes (except the flat behind…sorry).
My father’s mother lived until I was 23 and was able to share a few pieces of her own sage advice with me: don’t accept the first marriage proposal you get (not sure how things will be for you, but marriage proposals were a lot more common in her day than they are in mine), if you’re gonna “be bad”, wear a condom and get tested regularly and feel free to spend your pension on a face-lift if you have kids to take care of you (I won’t do this to you guys, I promise…unless I’m really out here sagging and struggling and I know you don’t want that for me). My mother’s mother passed when I was 9, so we didn’t have as many memories together. She was a very sweet woman, though and I have saved some of her pics for you. We called her Big Mama…don’t even think about it…
I hope that the world you inherit is much better than the one I got. I tried, baby girl(s) and/or boy(s). I hope that you no longer find that Black men and women are comfortable being perpetually at odds with one another and that there is a special peace, love and understanding between the two sexes. If not, I hope you do what I did and try to find yourself a safe space among the chaos in the arms of someone who truly respects and values you. Fight the fight, but have a fortress to return to at night.
I hope that girls your age are free to be the sole owners of their bodies, without society or other individuals attempting to police them. And even if that anti-woman culture still exists, I hope girls are doing as I did and owning themselves any damn way.
I hope the young brothers of your age love themselves too much to be out there shooting each other and terrorizing our neighborhoods. And even if they still have those issues, I hope my little grandbaby boy(s) have taken the lessons of their parents to heart and rise above the fray.
I hope that race isn’t the devastating source of pain and frustration that it has been throughout my life and through all generations before me. But if it is, I hope you kids are fighters. And if it isn’t, I hope you still pay homage to those who preceded you and all that we endured. I hope “Black” is as much a source of pride for you as it is for me.
I hope you can double dutch, because I never quite got the hang of it. And I hope you have the confidence to tell any little heffas at the park who call you “double handed” that your hands are simply meant for greater things than turning a rope…but make sure they teach you the right way to do it afterwards.
I hope that I have adequately passed things down through your parents for you to receive. I truly did seek out to create a tradition of HBCU graduates, Alpha Kappa Alpha women, freedom fighters, feminists, lovers of good Hip-Hop and Jazz music and bakers of the best bread pudding in all the land. But even if those things belonging to Mama Jamilah are not the markers of your lives, I just hope that you know that I sought to shape our family, our community and our world in ways that would make your life even richer and more charmed than my own. If I never meet you, know that I love you dearly.
Grandmere Jamilah AKA Mama Jamilah AKA Mother Superior AKA Pretty Granny Swag
PS: You guys should be tall, ’cause I worked reaaaaal hard to find a tall man to make your mom/dad with. So, um. keep that party going, k? Just kidding.
Clutchettes and Clutch Gents- if you could pass a message from your current self to your future grandchildren. what would it be?