I get a lot of “you’re so strong” comments, mostly from white women, occasionally from other women of color…almost never from other black women. Our Black Girl Magic, SuperWoman training starts early. Be Strong…Be Tough…Don’t Cry…are lessons we are taught to prepare us for a world that doesn’t permit black girls to just be girls.
I sometimes wonder if we are responding to reality or creating our reality…
“He told me not to cry…He taught me to be strong…Tough girl is what I had to be…” ~ Beyonce, Daddy Lessons
I first experienced the Air Force Academy graduation “March On” in 2013. I was there for the graduation and commissioning of my cousin, Wes Cobb, and I still remember that moment of giddiness during the ceremony when I realized the graduates were going to MARCH TO THEIR SEATS!
Yesterday, as I watched the 2017 Academy graduation, saw the precision execution of the “March On”, listened to the call for excellence, I thought about Army 2nd Lieutenant Richard Collins. Killed before he could serve his country, lynched, according to some, for being black, Collins is another victim of the violence perpetuated on people of color in American.
And I wondered how the almost 300 officers of color commissioned feel about their oath to “support and defend” a country which doesn’t always provide a safe space for them…
This weekend another young black male died violently, this time on a college campus, allegedly stabbed by a white male member of a hate group. This newly commissioned Army officer, on the precipice of a “limitless life” had sworn to “support and defend the Constitution” of his country…this America where he is hated and hunted because of the color of his skin.
And I grieve for what has been lost, for his family, his classmates and his fellow Americans who understand that America is great because of people like Richard W. Collins III.
“As a United States Army Officer who gladly puts his life on the line everyday…there’s no greater conflict within me. How do I feel about my country? And how does my country…feel about me? Are we only to be Americans when the mood suits you?”
Lawrence Fishborne as Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin O. Davis in the movie, Tuskegee Airman
When I think of some of the people I most admire, people who are applying their passion to a solving a problem in the world, it’s usually not just because of the amazing work they are doing. Or even their demonstrated courage to step out and live their dreams.
I admire the people I admire often because they’ve overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams. Some have overcome low expectations, some have escaped the prison of poverty, and others have survived near death experiences…and their experiences seem to have made them stronger, resilient…fearless.
“Out of massive suffering emerged the strongest souls; the most massive character are seared with scars.” ~ Khalil Gibran
In my early 30s, I experienced some major disruptions in my life. I left an abusive marriage and took my toddler out of the country to a new assignment in England, courtesy of Uncle Sam. And then DESERT STORM happened.
At first it, was difficult to get my footing. I had to find a place on the economy that wasn’t looking for a man to guarantee the rent. I beat myself up for thinking my daughter would easily transition to a big-girl bed. Why didn’t I bring the crib? I worried about deploying; should I send my 3-year-old to the States? I wondered if I could juggle all the demands…
But we survived. In fact, we didn’t just survive, we thrived! And I learned some things about myself…
“If I have to, I can do anything I am strong I am invincible I am woman…” Helen Reddy, I Am Woman
“Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” ~ Philippians 4:13, MSG
“When I was 5 and playing against 11-year-olds, who were bigger, stronger, faster, I just had to figure out a way to play with them.” ~ Wayne Gretzky.
I discovered resistance training while in college. My roommate and I would squeeze into the cramped, sweaty, unorganized space that passed for a gym in the early 80s…a far cry from the sprawling Student Recreation Center current University of Alabama students enjoy.
I became fascinated (some might say obsessed) by the way the resistance training shaped my muscles. I learned how the stress of lifting weights actually created little tears in my muscle fibers, which fused together to create muscle growth. Lifting also made my bones denser and less likely to break as I got older, increased blood flow, which reduces blood pressure…just made my body stronger and more efficient.
I realized that the long-term benefits far outweighed the temporary discomfort.
“Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle.” ~ Napoleon Hill
Today I am grateful for the resurrection that gave hope to the hopeless. In this season of renewal in the midst of confusion and fear, I am praying for sufficient strength to be hopeful, effective faith to believe, and enough compassion to be loving…
I believe our God given gifts and talents and personality are to be used to achieve our purpose. But whether or not we use those gifts, apply our personalities or achieve our purpose is up to each of us based on our personal beliefs. It’s no one else’s business
“Grace says you have nothing to give, nothing to earn nothing to pay.” Charles R. Swindoll