Part One

There’s this meme I saw the other day. It was an image of a Black woman, and at the top of the picture was the question, “What’s your talent?” The answer was written at the bottom in bold letters: “I am Black.”

It is humorous; however, being Black wherever you are in the world requires a certain kind of finesse. It requires grace, courage, fortitude, and resilience. These qualities are built in our DNA. Time does not permit me to write about the obstacles which we face on a daily basis and the struggles and oppression of our ancestors. The meme speaks volumes: there seems to be a vendetta against the Black race (or any other “minority” group) as if it’s a crime to be human.

People of African ancestry, particularly Black women, are always faced with the question, “Am I good enough?” In life, we will always face criticism. People will not like the way we dress, the way we style our hair, or the way our skin produces melanin. You name it. The list goes on. A few weeks ago, I heard about the off-hand comments made by certain officials concerning First Lady Michelle Obama. I will not give space to reiterate what was said.

Although we face criticisms about our image and intellect, it doesn’t mean we are not good enough. To even imply, “good enough,” means we are less than the greatness that we are. We are whole, complete, and perfect. As the Bible says, each one of us – no matter the race, creed, etc., – is “wonderfully and fearfully made.”

The social climate and tenor of the times have caused fear in the hearts of many people. They are walking around worried and sad, especially after the elections. There’s this pervasive fear that has shaken people to their core, and if they are not careful, they will lose balance and lose focus of their God-given purpose.

Each one of us is called to make a difference in our corner of the world. That corner has grown considerably larger at the advent of social media. What you do matters as much as what you say. What you do in your neighborhood or social media will positively or adversely affect someone in another part of the country or the world.

We have the tools in our arsenal to make a positive difference in our communities. Again, courage, perseverance, fortitude, and grace are built into our DNA. All we need to do is to tap into them. In order to persevere, we need to be secure in who we are, what we do, and where we are going. In other words, transformation begins with us. I believe it was Gandhi who said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Michael Jackson belted, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror; I’m asking him to change his ways. And, no message could have been any clearer: If You Wanna Make The World A Better Place, Take A Look At Yourself, And Then Make A Change.”

Transformation is not found in the acceptance and approval by others. We must get over our fears of “What will they think?” and operate from a place that isn’t a derivative of the past but a place of possibility in the future. As we gain a better understanding of who we are, what we do, and where we are going, we can effectively bring the change we wish to see in the world. The task is not left up to “the other,” it’s really left up to us. As we transform, we must engage them in conversations and actions. As Mrs. Obama once said, “If they go low, we must go high.” In doing so, we reveal our strength and courage, and hopefully, inspire them to look at themselves and make a change.

… to be continued.

(Photo by Alex Pimeno)

Cindy Similien-Johnson is the founder of CSJ Media Publishing, and author of the bestselling e-cookbook series and popular cooking classes, "Cook Like A Haitian." She's also the founder of the women empowerment grassroots initiative, Goal Chic.

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