"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine, we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others."
When I heard these words for the first time my eyes swelled and I found tear drops making a home in my lap. I wasn’t exactly sure of where this overwhelming emotional outburst came from. I was watching the movie Coach Carter and I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as a tearjerker. Then it struck me, maybe I was crying because watching these young boys transition to young men reminded me of my two brothers, growing; evolving; becoming men in country where their life and experiences are often devalued. Or maybe it was just me finally realizing that my deepest fear wasn’t failing but rather succeeding all along. While failure isn’t my best friend, I have come to value, respect and appreciate all that it brings to my life, as in my failures I have found my greatest triumphs. My failures don’t necessarily prepare me for the storm but they have given me the strength and tenacity to endure tumultuous weather. It is in my failures where I am confronted, even challenged to acknowledge who I am.
So who am I? I am a human being trying to find balance amongst the light and darkness and not shrink in the process. I am a woman surrounded by “controlling images” (Black Feminist Thought, Hill-Collins, 1990) that marginalizes my existence not only as a woman but as a Black woman. Yet, I work diligently to challenge historical and contemporary ideologies of “Blackness” and Black women both through scholarship and activism. I am a consumer and critic of media, a job that goes hand and hand for me. From movie to music to blogs to research, I’m online in the trenches trying to remain current but also make sense of the many images that I’m inundated with daily. How can I watch Law & Order and not be excited to see S. Epatha Merkerson (aka Lieutenant Van Buren) in a position of power yet not wonder if her character simply perpetuate “controlling images” of Black women (i.e. the “matriarch”, the “professional/Black lady”). When I hear discussion surrounding the image of Black women in the media, Momma Dee from the show Love & Hip Hop-Atlanta seems to always find herself at the core of current debates. Who am I to silence her truth, her life, her stories just because I don’t agree or have a frame of reference for the life she’s led? How do I listen to hip hop music and not be outraged over the misogyny and sexism but also not acknowledge and question agency and autonomy? Why does hip hop receive such bad representation yet Rock N Roll music has a Hall of Fame and Rhythm and Blues, or even Country Western for that matter, can be equally as salacious or violent just not as direct or abrasive? So as I try to find the right word or words to tell you who I think I am, the best I can do today is tell you that I’m an individual on a quest to find balance not only in my life personally but socially and I hope that I can use the media to serve as a NECESSARY conduit to promote positive social change.