Being a black woman in America can be difficult and exhausting and it often takes an emotional toll. Las Vegas Aces star A’ja Willson knows this all too well and wanted to share her experiences in a powerful essay published in The Players’ Tribune titled “Dear Black Girls.”
Wilson starts off in reminiscence of a poem or lyrics to a song that will be a black girl anthem.
“This is for all the girls with an apostrophe in their name. This is for all the girls who are ‘too loud’ and ‘too emotional.’ This is for all the girls who are constantly asked, ‘Oh, what did you do with your hair? That’s new.’ This is for my Black girls.”
The 6’4 forward and South Carolina native shared details of her heartbreaking first experience with racism while in the fourth grade after being invited to a birthday party by one of her white friends. Wilson was told she had to stay outside at the party because her friend’s dad didn’t like black people.
While this left her deflated and alone, the Aces’ star player knew that is what many black people have experienced in some form or another in their lives. It was valuable to her to learn about that painful reality at such a young age. Wilson also believes that black girls [women] are often stereotyped or silenced when we want to be heard. Words like “Loud,” “Angry” and “Ghetto” are thrown out there, she says.
“We’re a double minority,” Wilson proclaims. “It’s like the world is constantly reminding us — You’re a girl and you’re a Black girl.”
Difficulties of being the only black person in specific settings are all too familiar. The burden of being the only one is astronomical at times and leaves us with a range of hurtful and angry emotions. To be a black woman and stand up and let our voices be heard is very important. We can be smart, talented, and qualified but still, it’s not enough.
It is our responsibility to let little black girls know they are enough regardless of what society thinks of them. It is our responsibility to continue to speak up for one another. Sometimes we have to be the voice of the voiceless and stand up for what we believe in. As alone as Wilson felt being the only one in a majority white elementary, it was comforting to her to see a familiar face daily that looked like her. It was the school lunch lady that brought her a little excitement daily, which she wanted to note to show that examples can come from anywhere.
“You don’t have to be a WNBA player or a politician or a celebrity to have an impact on someone else,” said the WNBA All-Star.
Like the majority of black women and other women of color, Wilson just wants to be heard — all the time. “I don’t want to have to be UNAPOLOGETIC for you to hear me.”