Is there a certain person or number of people that you look up to when it comes to how you shape your life? As highlighted during the month of February along with one other very special person, the people that I have admired most are all African-American women. This is not to say there aren't amazing men and women within our world amongst other races/cultures, but simply how I've shaped my life has in one way or another mimicked the actions of several specific women who all happen to be black. The first is my grandmother. The second, Maya Angelou. The third, Ruby Bridges. The fourth, Harriett Tubman. Last, but not least [I'm sure you already guessed it], Sojourner Truth. Rather than recanting what I've previously shared about these remarkable women, I'd like to dive right in to how each has influenced me.
I remember I would put a great amount of energy into doing things in life that would be returned with praise from my grandmother and it was my grandmother who taught me to do what makes me happy and simply live my life. My experience with having a stronger attachment to the outcome than the experience itself had resulted in many types of feelings, but never happiness. Essentially, I just wanted to feel accepted and while I cared strongly about my grandmother's opinion, she could care less about anyone else's opinion of her, not even mine. I was slightly broken upon realizing this, but ultimately became a stronger person. My acquired strengths, however, did not come from this realization itself. A great amount of my strength is also a result of doing the very things that never brought me happiness.
It is also a result of the stories of the other mentioned women along my life's journey that have kept me inspired. They all had a strong force that seemed to demand respect without lacking compassion and each has greatly impacted American history. It would probably not even be possible for me to be the woman I am today had they not been the women they were. When presented with the challenges of racial injustice, these women did not back down nor did they start a riot. They simply manifested their achievements by having the courage to try something out of the norm during times when the black woman was nothing more than a submissive servant.
History has its way of repeating itself, bringing with it conditioned ways of thinking. Conditioned ways of thinking such as the black woman being nothing more than a submissive servant and all black men are dangerous. This thought is not just conditioned within the minds of our lighter peers, but it is also conditioned within the minds of our darker peers. I was conditioned to thinking that being submissive is a highly preferred trait of not just black women, but all women. I was also conditioned to think that the only way to receive affection from any man is to allow a man to overstep my boundaries and maybe even do things to me that I am not comfortable doing. The moment I released those conditioned ways of thinking, is also when I began experiencing resilience within myself for the first time.
I am a far cry from "privileged" as many may refer to as "white privilege", however I cannot deny, even in the racial oppression that still exists in our world today, having experienced "it". How so? Partially, is probably a result of finishing high school in a suburban area and having white friends, but this is also a result of unlearning the many ways that I have been conditioned to think. Although fully aware that there is a systematic structure within America that offers less opportunities to black people, I learned to somehow beat those odds until eventually learning how to own my power as a resilient black woman. For anyone who misheard me in reading that, I am not stating that I am resilient simply because I am a black woman. I am saying that I am a resilient individual who identifies as a black woman. I do realize that there are many resilient individuals of all kinds...which is my point exactly.
As a people, if we continue to believe the many lies that we are conditioned to believe, even with racial injustice overcome, many will unfortunately still experience social injustice. In order to overcome the root of social injustice, I believe, is to free ourselves from the prisons of our own minds. I also believe that it is in doing so, we begin to experience and understand resilience. As we still struggle with racial injustice today, I know that even if I don't change the world single-handedly like my greatest heroines, I can somehow pave the way by utilizing the resources that are available to me and through being persistent with doing the things that I enjoy and are meaningful to me. It is through doing the things that I enjoy, I no longer cling to the outcome. When the intent of the heart is good and faith is present, there is no need to cling to the outcome. This, I believe, is an essential key to resilience.