For Our Daughters

Courtesy of Signature Theater – Photo of Theresia and Donna Walker-Kuhne

March 26, 2023—It has been my belief that exposing girls to the arts, especially dance, is a wonderful path to help them step fully into their lives. From my own experience at the age 13, dance became the pivotal moment—not only to study, train and perform, but also the gateway to self-confidence, body awareness and passion. I continue to carry this spirit with me daily.

Having full access to one’s identity, especially for Black and Brown girls, is so important. There are so many negative images and external influences bombarding them with toxic messages of inadequacy, which often inflict trauma and feelings of ostracization. That’s why the arts are vital—they open a doorway to a different narrative. They provide a platform built on potential, possibilities, and hope. Engaging in the arts fosters self-possession, courage, and focus. The arts also allow girls to envision unlimited options for the future.

I wrote the following letter in 2019 as part of the Billie Holiday Theatre’s 50 in 50: Letters to Our Daughters, which was curated by 2018 MacArthur Genius playwright Dominique Morriseau, in partnership with Frank Silivera Writers’ Workshop. My letter was one of the 50 chosen from among the more than 200 submitted, and it was read by a group of brilliant actresses during a very moving, dramatic presentation directed by Dr. Indira Etwaroo, who was the theater’s executive director at the time.

My daughter turns 21 this week, which has caused me to reflect on how her journey with the arts has fostered self-expression; aided in shaping her identity, and helped her build friendships. As we close out Women’s History month—the time of the year in which the countless contributions of women are acknowledged (and ignored)—I have updated my letter and transformed it into a wish list for her, as well as for all of our daughters.

My Wish List for Our Daughters

I want our daughters to have happy and creative lives filled with purpose, compassion, and kindness.

I want our daughters to have a solid spiritual practice—one that recognizes the dignity of human life; empowers them to take on challenges; encourages them to create value, and focuses on happiness now.

I want our daughters to pursue education with a sense of legacy and purpose; to recognize the efforts of their ancestors and use it as the fuel to excel.

I want our daughters to consistently do their best and tenaciously learn from their struggles.

I want our daughters to forge a community of good friends, who are honest, thoughtful, and respectful.

I want our daughters to focus on their beauty within, which will naturally reflect in their faces and in their lives.

I want our daughters to know love with a partner of their choosing—to have relationships that are rich, authentic, respectful, and reflect the joy of life.

I want our daughters to cultivate harmonious families that radiate love; have open hearts and open minds, as well as the ability to listen to each other.

I want our daughters to be global thinkers and world travelers.

I want our daughters to utilize their innate intuition to see trouble coming and employ wisdom to get out of the way.

I want our daughters to carve out their place in society to advance all of humanity, honor our environment, and bring peace to our planet.

Most important, I want our daughters to be undefeatable, while always maintaining the ability to laugh.

Warrior daughters, I want you to soar beyond your wildest dreams. This world is yours to discover and yours to create!

As always, I want to know what you think. What is your wish for your daughters or the young women in your life? I invite you to share your comments below.

9 thoughts on “For Our Daughters

  1. Such a beautiful set of wishes for daughters. Thank you for sharing, Donna. You’ve captured an expanded upon the wish of mothers of daughters everywhere.

    Thank you this lovely piece.
    Katie David

  2. Donna, This letter is the the best, the most, the finest writing of mother
    to daughter. I have 2 daughters, now in their 50’s and 60’s that I am so
    proud of and have wished for and prayed for all the things you mention
    in your letter. I will forward it to them. Thank you for all this great work
    you’re doing. I never reply to your newsletter but I am a constant reader
    and feel blessed to know you and watch you grow through the years.
    Sincerely, Sheila Rohan

  3. This is beautiful, Donna. Congratulations on raising a wonderful young woman. I want to read your words to my 8 year old daughter tonight!

  4. Absolutely powerful and moving!!!! Happy Birthday Baby T (who’s no longer a baby!) Love Andrea

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