I ran in the house crying and screaming into my mother’s arms. I just left basketball tryouts where the coach told me I was too small to play. I was 8 or 9 and tall for my age. My long legs helped me with playground games of dodgeball and foot races from the front door of the school over the asphalt into the acre of grass in the schoolyard, but now I was told that they were not enough. I felt like I was not enough. It was the latest blow to my young and developing self-confidence. Too dark-skinned, too young, too short, hair too thick, glasses too big, I was starting to believe I was not the sum of my inadequate parts.
I started overcompensating in other areas. I loved to read so I read more. I loved music and started piano lessons. Became a girl scout to learn other practical skills. I didn’t want to be a black AND. You know those boxes societies place us in. Black AND uneducated. Black AND difficult. Black and POOR. Black and WILD. I looked up and I was leaving high school about to go to college. Apparently with age does not come wisdom. I still felt like I was not good enough. Like my existence was not enough.
And then, I had a dream.
Not the inspirational dream like the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A literal dream of being in a huge house with no doors and no furniture with the exception of a mirror. Like the mirror in Harry Potter that shows you what you want to see. In the background I saw some people who love me unconditionally, I saw myself laughing, I saw my receiving degrees and writing books. Those were the ANDs, I need to see. I was watching myself take all of those parts I originally thought were inadequate be put on display. I saw my blackness on display. I woke up in my twin bed in my residence hall and had an epiphany. I am enough. My kinky hair like a halo, my terrible vision, my big feet and lips, my loving heart, my open mind, my compassion, are enough. I would describe it as divine. A literal wake-up call.
I was letting life pass me by chasing what I had all along. Nobody’s standards mattered but mine. What somebody else views as not enough does not have to be MY not enough, ya know? I am here to let you know that your blackness is your greatest asset along with everything that comes with. With inadequacy comes self-hate and I want you to take the steps and work through that. Being a black AND, is a blessing. You write your own ANDs. You are enough.
Keep Singing Blackbirds