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Montgomery College Excalibur

The Student News Site of Montgomery College

Montgomery College Excalibur

The Student News Site of Montgomery College

Montgomery College Excalibur

Letters to Our Younger Selves: Embracing the Inner Black Girl

Last month, in the Cultural Arts Center of Montgomery College’s TPSS campus, a grand opening event was held for “Healing the Inner Black Girl,” an immersive art installation.

The installation was curated by Keisha V. Thompson and featured 10 writers. Handwritten letters penned by the featured women to their younger selves were hung on walls next to mirrors to be read by guests.

Two attendees in conversation with each other before the Dear Younger Me event begins in the Culture Arts center. (Photo credit, James Channe)

The women told their stories, and each woman had words of affirmation which were also woven from the letters in their names for the guests as they looked at the exhibited letters. The letters illuminated the journey of self-discovery, resilience, and celebration of Black womanhood.

Gilette Brown, a teacher at KippDC (Spring Academy) was featured in this project. Brown spoke about her experience as a black girl who had to grow up without a father and finding a safe haven to move forward.

“My mindset was, my future has to be brighter,” said Brown. “And so, I put myself into different programs. One of my safe havens was my track team. I had a godfather and a godmother who just took me under their wings, and my godfather became my father, like he looked out for me. He did the things that a father would do for a daughter.”

MC students socializing and eating at the Dear Younger Me event. (Photo credit, James Channe)

Lenny Walker, who works in diversity, equity, and inclusion, an attendee, and friend of Thompson, reflected on his insights into the women’s stories he viewed.

“I think it’s so important to talk against that, right? To be present. I think what I saw in those stories was not having a super present, super loving someone who was aware of their emotions and able to talk about them, right?” Walker said.

In her speech, Thompson recounted a part of her childhood as a 15-year-old black girl and how she had felt unsafe for years due to one man who would make vile and disturbing comments to her. She spoke about the courage she eventually mustered to speak up and put an end to his harassment.

Attendees gathering in the Culture Arts Center at the beginning of the Dear Younger Me event. (Photo credit, James Channe)

“But there was one block that I felt unsafe on three blocks further down the road. There were a group of guys who would line the sidewalk, and I would have to walk through them daily. There was just one, and he looked to be the eldest of the bunch. He oftentimes would say the most disgustingly vile things to me that, as a 15-year-old girl, I did not understand. And of course, once he said his piece, the others would cheer and egg him on. Several years later, I moved back to that neighborhood, and I would see him, and he still had something to say to me each time.”

“One day, as a grown woman, I got really angry because I thought about the 15-year-old girl that I was, who was just trying to get to school, who felt unsafe, and he just had fun making me feel unsafe. And so, I decided that, on behalf of her, I was going to say something,” Thompson said.

Other featured readers & participants included Jada Hoffman, Latrice Johnson, Kailynn Townsand, Shalina Baker, and others.

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About the Contributors
Nafisatu Kabia, Staff Writer
Nafisatu Kabia joined The Excalibur as a staff writer in the spring of 2023. She is the Assistant Editor for the Excalibur in the fall of 2023.
James Channe, Photographer

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