Oprah Winfrey, Michelle Obama, Madame CJ Walker
What do all these women have in common? They are heroes, inspirations, icons.
And for black women, they are the goal.
Once upon time, though, they were just like me; young, naïve, educated and “regular”. They weren’t born with their success, passion or intellect; they acquired it through their experiences and hard work.
Every exceptional black female figure was regular at one time. This was the most reassuring conclusion I had come to this far. Everyone I look up to was just like me at one point, this means my journey could be boundless. I can be just like them in the future; a motivation for regular black girls.
I had my first moment of inspiration from my cousin. We were texting one day and I told her that I was starting a business. I shyly mentioned it, she is 13, I thought she wouldn’t really care or have interest in my little idea.
“That is so cool! What is it about.” She said.
I paused. Was she serious right now?
Okay, not to be a pessimist but I truly felt that people my age and even people younger would not be interested or supportive of their peer’s ventures. Maybe it was the competitive side or maybe it was personal insecurity but from my experiences, people do not want to see you doing better than them.
Family, on the other hand, usually are always on your side. But I never thought my little cousin would be even interested to ask a question about it.
“Nothing crazy, just fitness.” I responded toning the down my enthusiasm for my website.
“That’s all your gonna tell me (angry emoticon). That’s still super cool! I am so proud of you, you’re like a role model.” She texted back.
I paused again. You are like a role model? Me?
I was shocked. I didn’t know how to respond this was very weird. Acknowledgement wasn’t hard for me to digest; it was who it was coming from. She was a teenager, at that age I was not an inquiring mind, I was too busy playing Barbie games online and painting my nails.
I re-read her message. R-O-L-E M-O-D-E-L.
Was I a role model now?
My family dynamic is heavily estrogen. My immediate family ratio is 15:6, girls to boys. Within the 15 girls 7 are under the age of 14. This means we have 7 potential Oprah’s, Michelle Obama’s and Madame CJ Walkers who haven’t uncovered their full potential as a black woman yet.
7 girls who are watching black women change the world, 7 blank slates ready to absorb the world and 7 reasons why I was now a role model.
Thinking so close minded before and at a global approach, I forgot about the small impact I was making; inspiring people at home.
My cousins message resonates with me still today. I am not a star covering magazines or on the news, I am a regular girl who is inspiring young girls in my family. In fact, regular people are inspirations every day.
I had always been inspired and admired my mom, dad and grandma’s struggle and they have made me the driving force I am today. My mom, Natalie Leveille, was an immigrant who defied all the odds put in her way. She was an avid education enthusiast that always went back to school to learn more. She became an occupational therapist and planned on continuing her education. Unfortunately, she died in 2003, but her tenacity, goal-oriented mind and drive is something I strive for every day.
My grandma Gladys Powell, who is the head of our family, got injured at her job decades ago disabling her to work. This however never stopped her from going above and beyond for her family. She has helped every single member of my family whether emotionally, mentally or financially get through tough times and has always advocated for strong family ties. Her empathy and kindness are traits that I have always respected.
My father, Dan Powell, is a single father of 4 children and housing 6; his kids and his grandkids. He is the epitome of selflessness and giving. He has never hesitated to help out or give anyone something they needed. My father has never back down or given up when facing adversity. His character has awestruck me every day.
All these “regular” people who have raised me didn’t seem so regular anymore. Being an inspiration is not equated with how much people you can reach. It is about the impact you make on the people you do.
I want everyone reading this, especially my black women, to erase doubt from their minds and realize all the inspirations surrounding them. Understand where you came from and how you are also an inspiration even if you don’t think so.
I am not Oprah, yet, but I am a motivator, I will be successful and I am a hero.
Song – Hero (Cudelsac)
“Yea, yes I’m on top, I going this hard and no I won’t stop. I’m a hero, I’m a hero, I’m a hero, I’m a hero, I’m a hero, I’m a hero, I’m a hero, I’m a hero, yeah.”
- Childish Gambino