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Hoping today’s thoughts are reaching you on a day where you and your loved ones are in good health and safe.
Speaking of the importance of safety, my message to you today comes from a place of examining safety and liberation. Let’s jump right into it…
You no doubt saw the title of this post and thought to yourself, “Kecia, are you one of those people out there screaming at the Costco (or Dollar Tree) employees talking about you’re ‘not going to wear no stinking mask?’ Because if so, Sis, your messages are now being B-L-O-C-K-E-D!”
Hold on! I’m not going there, I promise! Just let me share a quick story with you:
The Greatness of “Mother Maya”
Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of being part of a panel focused on the writings of Black womxn. Each of us chose Black womxn authors that spoke to our respective personal development journeys. It was a powerful experience to say the least. I chose to focus my reflections on my self-appointed patron saint, Dr. Maya Angelou, or as I lovingly call her within my spirit conversations, “Mother Maya.”
Maya Angelou’s words found me when I was 15-years-old and have traveled life with me for more than three decades. I have long admired her brilliance with words. However, it was the way she was able to write herself back into her personhood (while living a very colorful and well textured life) that made me love her all the more.
All that to say, I think Maya Angelou was and is the dopeness!
One of the 500 writing projects I am working on is an experience I am calling “Mother Maya and Me.” It will be a compilation of her pieces and those I have written that were inspired by her work. The two pieces I was planning to offer to the attendees of the event were two love poems: Mother Maya’s “In and Out of Time” and my poem “The Poem I Will Never Write.” I often talk about for a Poet, Love is a bonafide job requirement. However, there was a little something that happened on the way to being all lovey-dovey…
Masked @ Birth
Prior to the event, I read in our campus communication that some of my colleagues had decided that they were no longer going to observe the COVID-19 mask mandate. I thought this was a curious stance for educators (Read: My Pandemic Pisstivity was activated). And then it fully settled into my spirit: So many of us have had to wear masks from the time we were born just to survive. How convenient it is that some people are inconvenienced by a simple piece of fabric.
Long story short, I was led to the powerful piece below by Mother Maya and my poem “The Mothers Have Come.” Trigger warning: If you are looking to keep your Sunday light, do not watch/listen to these pieces today. Save them for Monday or Tuesday afternoon.
Dr. Maya Angelou’s powerful piece, in her own voice.
All of this leads me right back to the original question I posed to you: Are you tired of wearing a mask? And to be ABUNDANTLY clear, I am referring to the mask that hides your authenticity, your character, your brilliance, your full self so that others around you will not feel threatened by your presence?
During my keynote address at a Womxn of Color Summit, I shared 7-Questions for the community to consider as they think about solidarity and liberation. I have tailored the questions for you/us here:
Unraveling the Other Mask
- How do you name and claim your accomplishments?
- Are you able to give another Person of Color their flowers or has the training of “Competition is Good” eroded your ability to partner and praise others?
- How (if at all) are you mentoring the next generation of Changemakers to own their accomplishments while still supporting others, as a way to deteriorate the foundations of Impostor Syndrome?
- How or in what ways does caring for yourself while supporting other Leaders of Color to do the same, show up in your leadership practice?
- What does setting boundaries, bossing up and sitting down mean for you as a leader?
- What does it mean to you to be a “Good Ancestor” (originally coined by Dr. Keisha McIntosh Allen and quoted by my friend and Sister-Scholar Dr. Yolanda Sealey Ruiz)?
- How will you continue to interrupt and dismantle “The Oppressor Within” in order to be culturally humble enough to keep learning, even when it is hard, inconvenient and/or is time consuming?
I hope that these questions and your honest, compassionate and courageous responses will help you lift the mask of oppression, shame and fear. You deserve to breathe freely and we are grateful for your every breath!
Have a wonderful week!