This month, we honor and salute women like you because all of our stories and voices matter.
Viola Davis, the first Black actress to win an Oscar, Emmy and Tony Award, has proven time and time again that she understands the importance of revealing the diverse stories and truths of all women.
As she accepted her Oscar at this year’s Academy Awards, Viola gave a mesmerizing speech. She said:
“You know, there is one place that all the people with the greatest potential are gathered and that’s the graveyard. People ask me all the time—what kind of stories do you want to tell, Viola? And I say exhume those bodies. Exhume those stories—the stories of the people who dreamed big and never saw those dreams to fruition, people who fell in love and lost. I became an artist and thank God I did, because we are the only profession that celebrates what it means to live a life.”
She flawlessly articulated the disheartening dilemma that plagues people worldwide, and it makes us wonder… why aren’t more of us living up to our potential?
When you think of #BlackExcellence, certain women instantly come to mind—Michelle Obama, Cicely Tyson, Nina Simone and Oprah—just to name a few.
We’re undoubtedly thankful for these women. They were trailblazers who forged paths for future generations to boldly pursue their goals with confidence and perseverance.
However, we must also recognize the women who aren’t acknowledged as the typical models of #BlackExcellence that we’ve become accustomed to seeing all the time.
Take Rihanna, for example. Her unapologetic “rude gyal” sense of style, music and personality are turnoffs for some. But one thing is clear—she’s a philanthropist with a heart of gold—so much so that this year, Harvard University named her their Humanitarian of the Year.
This proves one very important lesson: regardless of where you come from and the life that you live, you are worthy and capable of attaining everything you’ve ever dreamed of.
There’s also something very powerful about seeing women who look like you and who care about the same things you do accomplish the unthinkable. It provides a sense of empowerment that you otherwise wouldn’t experience.
The woman who wears head wraps might be a free spirit who’s into holistic health and social issues, but she could very well love binge watching Scandal and Love and Hip Hop. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
The woman with straight weave that passes her waist might love shopping for the latest fashion trends, but she could very well be a news junkie who loves listening to political podcasts. There’s nothing wrong with that either.
What matters is that all women develop positive self identities and feel confident in who they are —even if who they are doesn’t align with what society has deemed as acceptable, beautiful or valuable.
It’s easy to acknowledge certain women as standards for #BlackExcellence. But from Rihanna to Michelle Obama and everyone in between, every woman has a powerful story to share. A story that leaves other women empowered to live their best lives. A story that makes women understand that they are not alone. A story that instills hope, joy and sisterhood among the hopeless.
We all have purposes to fulfill, and we’re all worth the effort it takes to support and uplift one another. So go out there and be excellent… and help a sister (or two) along the way.
Who are your models of #BlackExcellence? Share with us in a comment below!