Taraji taught me how to cheer for my fellow sister.
I was proud of her. I honestly and truly was proud of her promotion. She worked hard for the last 8 months for that promotion and I wanted to cheer her on and congratulate her. But I was in my feelings, busy looking at myself and wondering why I wasn’t flourishing like her. I made up a lame excuse for why I couldn’t make it to her celebration dinner with the promise that I would make it up. I wanted to give her all my love and support but I was standing still. I didn’t have any accomplishment to celebrate or fresh news to discuss. I was in the same spot I was in when she started her quest for a promotion and now we were on two different levels. It wasn’t her fault but I didn’t show up for her and it wasn’t fair. I needed to check myself because no one wants the jealous, hating friend that can’t celebrate her friend’s wins.
Let me go ahead and say this now: I am a Cardi B stan.
I learned about Cardi B when I was late-night scrolling through Instagram in search of something to aid my insomnia. I spotted a video of a woman with long nails and orange hair and I ended up watching every single one of her videos. I learned that I was late to the game when it came to Cardi. She was quickly growing as an Instagram personality who made videos joking about the strip club or telling off people that wasted their time leaving negative comments on her pictures and videos. She didn’t care about sounding politically correct or whether you liked her thick Bronx accent. She just liked making people laugh while being her regular, authentic self. Since discovering Cardi, I have picked up three lessons from her and her rise to fame.
| Melanin Girl Gang | Issa Rae, Aja Naomi King, Yara Shahidi & Janelle Monae
(Auntie in my head) Viola Davis is one of my favorite actresses. I adore how she gives familiarity to every character she plays. I wanted to be her in How To Get Away With Murder, I despised her in Suicide Squad and I cried with her in The Help. She is amazing and greatly humbled in her position in Hollywood. She effortlessly juggles between using her platform to defend and support the arts and encourage people of color to strive in the face of doubt. This year she became the first black actor/actress to earn an Emmy, Tony, and Oscar and she is the most nominated black actress in history. On top of that, she strolled over to Harvard University to accept their artist of the year award. Can’t stop, won’t stop. While this may seem like I’m having a fangirl moment for her (I definitely am), I wanted to bring attention to the fact that black women are winning right now. In a MAJOR way.
It wasn’t until I was a 27-year old that I fell in love with being a woman. It was then that I saw strength in our femininity, beauty in our vulnerability and the future in our voices. I was surrounded by women that were beautiful, smart, driven, creative, funny, witty etc. and they were inspiring. I spent most of my twenties tapping into a masculine side that wasn’t very authentic to who I was. I thought “masculine” equaled strength. I didn’t understand how strong women were. But when I stopped and looked at the women I was surrounded by or “my TRIBE” and realized how much I adored them, I started looking at myself a little different. I was one of them. I was soft like them. I was strong like them. I was vulnerable like them. I was dynamic like them. “I should be proud to be a woman” is how I felt that day and that’s how I felt on January 21st.
“I ran around in circles, think I made myself dizzy.”
Brooklyn, New York. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Atlanta, Georgia. In the last year, I have lived in three different places. Never feeling stable or secure in my location, I was constantly thinking (read: dreaming) about the next place I wanted to attempt to live in and plant roots. Even after coming back from my Eurotrip, I was plotting on moving to the West Coast after only 15 days of planning. Now my inner therapist would tell me to think about why I have been bouncing around from place to place and why I wasn’t feeling fulfilled when I did. Why was I running around in a circle like a chicken with its head cut off? In my professional counselor voice, “What underlying issues am I avoiding?”
At the top of the year, I read Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes book for the first book of the year with my book club. To sum up the book, Shonda decided to spend a year saying yes to everything that scared her. From going to sit with Oprah to giving a commencement speech at her alma mater, Dartmouth College. A week after I finished the book, I received a free entry into the 2016 NY Marathon. At first, I said “absolutely not” but I didn’t delete the email. After two days of feeling guilty for reading that motivating and inspiring book, I registered for the marathon while waiting to board a plane to Berlin during my euro trip.