NO!

Today, you overheard a conversation your father and I were having
He told me, “It’s okay to say no to people sometimes, you know.”

And you walked up to us
One hand on your hip, the other pointing a finger
Like you were about to give us one of your lessons

“You know why you always say yes, mommy?
Because you are afraid to say no.”

Excuse me?
We both laughed
You said you’d heard someone say that on a TV show
You couldn’t remember which one

You were thrilled to have said something you figured was wise
Even happier that you’d made us laugh
You basked in our adoration
Sandwiched between us
A halo of love and light around you

We won’t always be there to embrace you
For everything that you are and dream of being
Will always be a fight
Such is the world

Remember that language is your sharpest sword
Use it and
Don’t ever be afraid to say no

When no is what you mean to say
Let the word come out of your lips
Sharp and clear
So that you are never misunderstood

And sometimes, you won’t be heard
Because you will be standing opposite someone
Hungry for power
Fueled by the desire to rule over you

Because you are brown
Because you are a woman
Because you are a brown woman

So remember this lesson you taught me
When you were four years old:

When no is what you mean to say
Let the word come out of your lips
Sharp and clear
So that you are never misunderstood

If you need to repeat it
Speak it loudly
Scream it
Roar

The greater the rejection of the word
The fiercer your resistance

The stronger the effort to silence you
The louder your roar

NO!

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