1) A boy telling you you’re pretty won’t make you see the beauty in the fullness of your cheeks, in redness of your lips at 2 in the morning when tequila is making the bar bathroom spin. He can’t take away the ugliness that you see in yourself, you have to do that.
2) You have to be ready to hear someone say they love you. You have to be ready, and you have to be willing, and you have to listen. Because sometimes, they won’t say those three words, they’ll put a blanket over you while you’re watching a movie, they’ll kiss your cheek when they think you’re asleep, they’ll smile when they see you first thing in the morning. But you, you have to be willing to see it, feel it, let it in. Letting someone love you takes practice.
3) Don’t make compromises you can’t live with. Compromise is a different version of what you want, not a whole other universe.
4) Learn to say no. No - to a movie you don’t want to watch; no - to sex you don’t want to have, no - to a relationship that’s driving you mad. Say no - to things that hurt you, to people that extinguish your fire, to jobs you hate and places that are desolate. There are bad things that we can’t control, bad things that happen and we are sucked into and have to feel with every fibre of our being, but the rest - learn to distance yourself, learn to say no.
5) Don’t expect people to walk through fire for you - not your parents, not your friends, not the person you’re in love with. Love doesn’t mean sacrifice, love shouldn’t mean sacrifice. Don’t expect someone to give away pieces of them, so they could fit you better. And don’t feel hurt when they refuse to - it’s self-preservation. Instead - learn from them. Do it as well.
6) Don’t tether yourself to people. Learn to make connections, to love, with both your feet steady on the ground. Learn to let people pass through your life; like a summer breeze, not a storm that’s just been unleashed.
7) Learn the difference between growth and growing up before it’s too late. Rooftops and water fights and ice cream for breakfast can be a part of your life at 10, 25, or 35. But by the time you’re 35 you need to learn to say enough, to be able to walk away, you need to be able to love yourself. Love yourself the way you loved yourself at 10, before the world had a chance to fill your head with ugliness.
The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.