Cover Photo: Two Black woman, one with loose curls and another with tight curls, sitting shoulder to shoulder, laughing.
Photograph by Alex Starnes/

I Wasn’t Supposed to Love Me

Nothing has gotten better—not the pandemic, not racism—but I know, and the Black women in my life tell me so, that everything will be alright.

This baby is going to kill youShow these to your daughter whenever she talks back or is not listening. Remind her how much you suffered to bring her into this world

Take care of yourself. Be safestay in

out thereout there

We don’t carry many hard-to-fit sizes here

You are so beautifulHmph. You look nothing like her . . . are you adopted?

beautifulnothing like her

I love your dark skin

love is the only thingyou’re all I need to get by

All this thick hairYou taking care of it?

Yes, ma’am.

Tying it up at night?

Yes, ma’am.

Keeping it covered when you’re in the rain?

Yes, ma’am.


You’re at that age where you might make some mistakes but nothing is unforgivable. You know that, right? You can always tell someone if you need help getting out of a bad situation.

You are perfect just the way you are because God made you, and who are we to question God’s creation?

remember whensbeautiful

Do you still know them? know

You sure are so beautiful, Renée. But I don’t want you to just look beautiful; I want you to be beautiful.

There are times you need to hold your peace;there are times you need to speak up

We wanted you to be comfortable

Order whatever you want

Renée Watson is a New York Times bestselling author. Her books include young adult novels, Love is a Revolution, This Side of Home, and Watch Us Rise, co-written with Ellen Hagan. Her novel, Piecing Me Together received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor. Her books for teens have received several awards and international recognition. Her poetry and fiction centers around the experiences of Black girls and women, and explores themes of home, identity, and the intersections of race, class, and gender. Renée splits her time between Portland, OR and New York City.