The other night I laid next to my daughter as she fell asleep.

It was hot, so she was sleeping in her underwear, lying on her side with her back to me.

I ran my fingers gently across her soft skin and noticed the way her hair was swept to the side,

and I thought about future lovers gently touching her skin this way.

I thought, it is my job to teach her to choose the right people,

only people who will touch her with care, only people who will appreciate how devastatingly beautiful she is.

I don’t tell my daughter she’s beautiful, because I know it is all the world will look to measure her by.

Instead I tell her she is strong.

I tell her she is brave.

I tell her she is smart.

I tell her she is kind.

And good god is she funny.

It is for these reasons that I find her so beautiful.

Too beautiful for the monsters of this world.

Too beautiful to let them touch her soft skin.

 

As I lie there I think about her skin.

It is browner than the rest of our family, but it is still what is known as white skin.

I think about the beautiful black and brown girls whose mothers run their fingers across their backs as they fall asleep, admiring their beautiful soft skin and how

strong,

and smart,

and brave,

and kind,

and funny their daughters are,

knowing that they too will have to protect their daughters from the monsters I will have to protect my daughter from,

and knowing that because they have brown skin, they have additional monsters to protect from.

They have the monsters with white skin.

Like me.

Like my daughter.

 

I will teach my daughter to look for the signs of a monster.

I will teach her to share her skin only with those who will treat it with care.

 

I will teach my daughter that she is also a monster, until she proves herself otherwise, unless she sees that her beautiful skin will be seen as

better

than the beautiful skin of black and brown girls, until we with white skin say

NO.

I will teach her that many people with white skin do not believe their skin affords them better treatment in this world,

and that makes them dangerous.

That makes them monsters

in white skin.

 

I will teach my daughter to stand with the black and brown girls whose mothers lie with them at night.

I will teach her to listen to them,

to fight with them,

and to shed the protection

of her soft white skin.

 

 

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