If you could offer insight and advice to your younger self, what would you say? Oprah Winfrey, when she was 58, wrote these words to her 19-year-old self:
‘Dear beautiful brown-skinned girl… The truth is, he’s intimidated. You don’t know this, though, because you can see yourself only through his eyes. A lesson you will have to learn again and again: to see yourself with your own eyes, to love yourself from your own heart’.
Maya Angelou, at the age of 85, had this advice for her 15-year old self:
‘Find some beautiful art and admire it, and realize that that was created by human beings just like you, no more human, no less’.
Advice like that has both universal resonance and specific relevance to women of colour. Most people have fallen in love, discovered the power of art and wondered whether they have the capacity to achieve great things. But women of colour have to contend with unique experiences. Many feel the sting of erasure when they are young – not seeing themselves in literature, on TV or occupying positions of power. Growing up can be lonely and even more so if you feel left out of predominantly white or male spaces. Perhaps reading a letter by someone with shared experiences would help you to feel less alone in your struggle and more at home in your joy.
In the second installment of our Trailblazers series, Intelligence Squared has partnered with gal-dem to bring together a collection of outstanding women – and their letters – to our stage. They range from playwright Bonnie Greer to footballer Eni Aluko and comedian Shappi Khorsandi. The event will be chaired by BBC Radio 1 presenter Clara Amfo.
Join us for an evening of letters, laughter and inspiration. In the words of Michelle Obama in a letter to her younger self, ‘It will be easy to think you’re something special. Just remember that there are millions of people who grew up like you did and don’t get this kind of spotlight. Reflect the light back on them.’
Speakers are subject to change.