Solange Knowles is looking back at her life — including the hurdles she had to overcome as a teenage mother.
In the letter, published Wednesday, Solange reflected on the “fear” and “triumph” that will follow on her journey to understand herself — which she dubbed “the long way.”
Part of that involves learning to combat negativity coming from haters.
“When you go out into the world feeling confident in who you are and what you reflect, young folks will call you names and grown folks will call you names,” she explained. “It’s ok. one day you will name yourself, and that name will belong to you. it will not be the ones they ordained: ‘crazy, ugly, attention-seeking, weirdo.’ ”
Those names haven’t stopped at the end of her teenage years — though Solange explained she’s approached them differently.
“I really hate to tell you this, but sometimes you will still get called these things as an adult, except you will actually embrace some of them,” she wrote. “You will learn that these are just words. words that only have power if you choose to give them power. every once in a while they will hurt, but you will choose to turn those words into a symbol of beauty.”
Elsewhere in the letter, Solange reflected on what she calls the toughest year of her life — which included the death of her childhood friend Marsai Song and the birth of her now 12-year-old son Daniel Julez.
Song was killed in 2004 in a drive-by shooting. In October of that year, Solange and now ex-husband Daniel Smith Jr. welcomed their son. Both events are memorialized on angel wing tattoos on each of Solange’s wrists.
“Seventeen will be the hardest year of your life,” Solange wrote. “It will grow you up almost immediately. you will lose your best friend whom you love so much to gun violence in a single moment, and give birth to a new one within a year.”
“You will be terrified, and it’s ok that you don’t know what the future holds,” she continued. “Some people will count you out because of the decision you’ve made to bring another life into the world so young, but you made the decision out of love and will live with the decision in love.”
Learning to love herself and how to “empathize with and forgive those who may have taken a bit of that pure love away” is something Solange said she learned through motherhood.
It’s also something she no doubt learned from watching her mother, Tina Knowles Lawson.
“She is a wonder,”Solange wrote — of Tina — who owned a salon while Solange was growing up. “You realize watching a woman balance being a supportive mother, building a successful business from the ground up that was started in her garage, and giving back to the community will make you feel invincible and like the word ‘no’ is just an echo in the universe that you’ll never know.”
Solange added: “You often take her for granted, but you know with every joint in your bones that she is a phenomenon and you strive to make her proud. you should thank her out loud more, too; tell her you value her. roll your eyes and your neck less. it’s not as cute as you think. tell her you appreciate all that she does, for she makes the impossible look effortless. she surrounds you with other black women who do the same. you study them, and will constantly think of all their stories, their beauty, their strife and their stride. they break down all of the archetypes and stereotypes that you see of black women on tv and in magazines, so you don’t trust those anymore. you thank them for re-writing the script before it was ever etched in your memory.”