Dear Black Girls: How to Be True to You by A’Ja Wilson

c.2024, Moment of Life Books / Flatiron Books   
192 pages

By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor

The envelope on the table is addressed to you.

.It caught your attention because – who, besides politicians, utilities, and creditors sends anything in the mail these days? Still, it was a nice surprise, no matter what, like a throwback or something. And like the new book, Dear Black Girls by A’Ja Wilson, every letter means something.

From the time she was born until she was in fourth or fifth grade, A’Ja Wilson lived in a bubble. She didn’t know it; she was only a kid, just being herself with no worries. And then, right before one of her best friends was having a birthday party, Wilson learned that the girl’s dad “really [didn’t] like Black people.” Those few words shook Wilson’s dad, they made her mother quietly angry, and they made Wilson doubt herself for many years.

It was her first reminder: “You’re a girl.

Oh! And you’re a Black girl.

Alright, good luck!”

With the help of her parents and her beloved grandmother, Wilson healed but she never forgot. She made sure to know her roots and her family’s story. She was dyslexic, so she struggled, tried to fit in, and grew taller than most boys, which didn’t help her self-esteem. Neither did the fact that at almost every point in her life, the color of her skin mattered in ways that it shouldn’t have mattered. That included her activity on a basketball court.

Wilson was a young teen when her father first threw her a ball and she hated it, but by the time she graduated from high school, she’d found her way. She’d developed a good “Nonsense Detector.” She got some therapy (“Ain’t no shame in it.”); she learned that when she did her best, there were still going to be haters; and she always remembers to be herself and to be a light for others

Remember, she says, “You don’t have to be an WNBA player or a politician or a celebrity to have an impact on someone.”

So will you learn a thing or two by reading Dear Black Girls?

Yes and no. In her short introduction, author A’Ja Wilson says that this “is not a self-help book,” that it’s just “a diary of somebody… who looks like you…” Eh, that’s nothing new but despite her protests, Dear Black Girls is helpful. You just have to be ready for it.

That’s not hard; Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP tells her story with a flair for fun. She even tells the sad tales with exuberance, subtly letting readers know that it’s okay, she’s okay, and it’s all just part of her story. Her voice lets you know how much she enjoys life, even when she has tough things to deal with. It’s like hearing encouragement from the top bunk, or getting straight talk from a mentor.

While it might seem to be a book for teenagers only, Dear Black Girls would also be a great resource for younger adults. Take a look, see if it doesn’t get your stamp of approval.