Part I of the Writing In My Image Series by Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor
A long time ago, I started the journey of writing my first children’s book. However, after coming up with the title, I did some research and found that it was not unique enough. I also came across a few trademark registrations that would have made it difficult for me to move forward with publishing and merchandising. Thus, I decided to move in a completely different direction but with the same goal – publish a children’s book that promoted self care and self love among young Black girls. I wanted my book to show the love and care that I remember receiving from family members and role models growing up. Thus, I felt it important to use a term of endearment throughout the book to show both the connection and love for my young readers.
After starting a list, I reached out to a large group of friends asking them to share with me terms of endearment that they remember hearing growing up. My phone became flooded with text messages from friends, family members and school mates. Everyone had something to share. My list grew larger and larger. By the end of the day, I had crowdsourced about 30 loving nicknames that we give young girls in our families and communities.
Seeing the long list of terms of endearment used for Black girls warmed my heart. I instantly started thinking about all the love we received growing up and all of the people that tried to show it. “We love our girls,” kept resonating in my mind over and over again.
We hear so much negativity on a constant basis regarding the Black community’s treatment of Black women and girls. It’s true, we live in a patriarchal society that is often overly male focused. It’s true, that our girls face discrimination and oppression at almost every turn. It’s true that when we are wronged, it is harder to get people to show up for us in the same numbers as we have for Black men and boys.
It is also true that we love our girls. It is also true that people have fought and will continue to fight for us. In almost every traumatic moment in my life, there were always people within my community that were there for me. Many of my sister friends have also experienced this. There was a person or people around us there to show us love, all the while calling us “baby girl”, “sweetie pie,” or “dear heart,” as terms of endearment. Those people and their support matters. This should also be uplifted.
I do believe that we care. I do believe that we love.
However, it’s not enough to use nice words. It’s a start but it’s far from the finish. We need to consistently show our girls that we care through both our words and our actions. This means uplifting them, standing up for them, providing them with opportunities, giving them positive reinforcement, protecting them, giving them freedom to be themselves, believing them when they say they’ve been harmed, reporting all predators or other harmful people – the list goes on. We need to do everything we can to show our girls that they are loved and we need to do it early.
View the list below to see the terms of endearment from my amazing group of sister friends.
Terms of Endearment for Little Black Girls
Baby girl, Lil mama, Brown sugar babe, Lil bit, Child, Sis, Boo, Sweetie pie, Doll baby, Sweet pea, Honey Child, Sugar plum, Sister Girl, Chocolate drop, Brown sugar, Sweetie, Missy, Precious, Pumpkin, Princess, Suga foot, Miss thang, Young lady, little girl, Mama’s Butt butt, Bunny, Toot, Sweet love, Angel face, Boo baby, Love muffin, Baby Cakes, My lil love bug, Chickadee, Deary, Dear heart, and My love.
Jessica Ann Mitchell Aiwuyor is the founder of Our Legaci Press and the author of Rise and Shine, Dear Heart, a children’s book that provides encouragement to young girls, while showcasing diverse skin tones, shapes and sizes. Rise and Shine, Dear Heart is available for pre-order at OurLegaciPress.com/books.
Join me at the Rise and Shine, Dear Heart Children’s Book Launch Party on Saturday August 25, 2018. RSVP at DearHeart.Eventbrite.com