The Parable Of The Brown Girl

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Here is an excerpt from Khristi Lauren Adams’s new book “Parable of the Brown Girl: The Sacred Lives of Girls of Color.” In this book, Khristi introduces readers to the resilience, struggle, and hope girls of color hold. Instead of relegating these young women of color to the margins, she brings their stories front and center and magnifies the struggles, dreams, wisdom, and dignity of these voices. Click here for more information about this book and to purchase it. 

Scroll down to watch a video of Khristi sharing a blessing for all brown girls and women. 

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For a nine-year-old girl, Deborah had a very sharp and opinionated mind. She was curious and perceptive, yet also quite innocent. About a week prior to Deborah’s ninth birthday, her mother brought her to see me for counseling. She wanted Deborah to have someone to share her inquisitive thoughts with outside of her family and friends. In the time we’d been seeing one another, Deborah and I talked about many things. She often described school as her “happy place.” One could feel the warmth of her big, bright smile when she talked about her friends and her classes. At school she felt safe, con­trary to what she described as feeling trapped at home. She lived in a small, one-bedroom apartment with her mother and her mother’s boy­friend, who was recently released from jail after two years. Before he returned, Deborah slept in a room with her mother, which she loved because of how close she felt to her mother physically and emotionally.

Now she slept in the living room on their big, dusty, brown couch, which she described as old and worn. The middle dipped low when she lay on the couch and she often awoke with her back aching, but her mother thought Deborah was being dramatic when she complained about it. However, Deborah’s grievances indicated she felt distance between her and her mother and no longer had a sense of security and safety at home. Deborah’s mother was usually tired from working most of the day to support herself, her daughter, and her boyfriend. It had been six months since her mother’s boyfriend had moved in, and Deborah didn’t feel comfortable with him in her home. When she told her mother this, her words fell on deaf ears, just like all her other complaints did. Her mother thought Deborah was jealous but also believed Deborah would adjust to the situation eventually.

Deborah had a black-and white-marbled composition notebook she used as her journal. She didn’t structure her thoughts in a partic­ular way, filling the notebook mostly with pencil-drawn pictures and poems. Knowing these were her private thoughts, I told Deborah she did not have to read them to me. Sometimes, she would bring the journal and have it idly on the desk. Other times, she wanted to read her thoughts from the past week. One day as she read, I glanced into the notebook and saw a picture she’d drawn, but I couldn’t quite make out who or what it was.

“What’s that?” I asked.

Embarrassed, she tried to hide it, but I promised I wouldn’t judge anything she drew or wrote. When she showed me the picture more closely, I was horrified. It was a picture of a girl with a gun to her head and the words “What’s the point? No one cares.” Something inside of me knew Deborah was the little girl. I asked her about the picture and she said it was an old drawing. Upon seeing the concerned look on my face, she tried to reassure me she’d just been having a bad day when she’d drawn it.

We sat in silence for a moment while I tried to gather words. Deborah seemed more concerned with my reaction than the actual drawing, and I sensed she didn’t want me to worry. When I finally found the words, I tried my hardest to impress to her that her life was important and that although things were diffi­cult, people loved and cared for her. I also told her she had a life with purpose just like everyone else and God hadn’t made a mistake when creating her. She paused to think about my words and then desper­ately asked one of the most profound questions I’d ever heard.

“Why did God make me a warrior when I’m really just weak?”

 

Blessing for Brown Girls by Khristi Lauren Adams:

(Email subscribers, please click through to the website to watch the video.)

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Khristi Lauren Adams

Khristi Lauren Adams is a speaker, advocate, chaplain, and ordained Baptist minister. She is the founder and director of The Becoming Conference, designed to empower, educate, and inspire teenage girls. She is currently the Firestone Endowment Chaplain and an instructor of religious studies and philosophy at The Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. When not in residence at The Hill School, she lives in East Brunswick, New Jersey.

 

 

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