Who Inspires You to Be Great?
When I was younger, I remember watching TV shows like, "Alf, Married with Children, and Who's The Boss," as well as lots and lots of Disney Movies; most of them featuring beautiful, blue eyed-blonde hair princesses who became the envy of my little sisters and I. We simply wanted to be them.
At that time, the early 80s, I grew up in a mostly white neighborhood and I attended private schools where I was probably one of three other "black" kids at most. In fact, it wasn't until my parents relocated from CA to NY when I was 11 years old; we moved into an all black neighborhood and I was sent to attend a public school, in Hempstead, where I realized I was most certainly black and then bullied for not fitting in with others who looked like me.
The culture shock that I endured was relentless-as is any adolescent setting- no matter the decade or demographic.
But this isn't necessarily about my life growing up and more so about representation and why it is so important. Today, you see more and more areas of opportunity to see oneself through art and other interpretations which inspire and encourage those who need to witness people who resemble them having access to and doing "LIFE". To see that life, that we as a people are more than just a label and that we were not meant to stay in boxes.
A child of the 80's, I lived several lives. I lived the sheltered and protected life that most children need to succeed on many levels but I also lived the exposed and abused life; where I witnessed and endured what most kids my age would most certainly not make it out of, ok. The result? Lots of trauma and disbelief in my own capabilities and becoming a true statistic-a victim of circumstance.
I never saw the black men in my life as successful or protective or as the man of the house. There weren't any black men in my life that fit in these categories. Most of the men I grew up around were abusive, manipulative, in gangs and certainly weren't the type to look up to, marry, or even give a damn about. Truth be told, my own bio-dad was poor and homeless until the day he passed; my step-dad who raised me- a drunk, abusive man who lied so much he made it almost impossible for us to live comfortably around his own family. My grandfather remarried a white woman when my 1/2 white grandmother passed and she hated us; Kept us away from him for years. My uncle; who married 3x's and divorced 3x's because of his abusive nature was never there for me; I literally had no one to show me how I should be loved by a man.
I grew up being told I should marry a white man and that I would suffer if I married black. The older black women that I had around me at the time were so zealous and stuck in their own bed of life that encouragement or positivity of some kind seemed like it would never come from them. It never did. I ended up navigating life and figuring out mostly everything on my own; I learned from the streets.
So where does one who falls into the circumstance of life go for inspiration? To change the way they think and or view things? I decided to go to College. I graduated College with four Associate's Degrees. I initially signed up for just one but it was being at this College that changed my life and my perspective on who I was and what I was capable of. I never imagined going to College as an actual goal I could accomplish in life. Being in class, I learned so much about the world around me and I was able to step out of my comfort zone and I was challenged to be better than great.
I started meeting people who shared similar goals and who wanted to better themselves after enduring their own trials and tribulations. Being in College inspired me to become who I am today. While I was there I witnessed real people doing the act of a servant leader; one who uses their own tools and knowledge to help propel others into their own greatness.
I am because of them. I am because of all those who believed in me and who encouraged me to continue and to not only dream but how to set attainable goals which helped me get to where I am now. It is because of them that I have been given the opportunity to break generational barriers that have struck many before me from achieving their own true purposes in life.
After years of never being able to understand why... after trying so hard to reconnect with others that share my own DNA yet are unable to move on from their own "traumas" and then soul searching, healing, and learning how to overcome my own trauma; I am able to say that I am resetting the trend for my family to follow and while I may not have had anyone to look up to while I was young, my children and their grandchildren and so on... well, they most certainly will. ME.
Who inspires you? I'd love to hear your story!
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