Seeing images of 'excellent' black people all over the media was relieving, but I wouldn’t say it’s liberating enough. Don’t get me wrong, I want to keep seeing us represented in the media and workplace because we are valuable and worth recognition. This representation continues to give me life. However, this 'excellence' title puts a pressure on me to prove something to the world. Yes, my blackness is amazing, great, beautiful and wonderful. But I'm beyond those words. I'm no longer comparing myself to those that don’t represent me. I am not better or less than anyone, and I don’t feel this desire to prove my beauty anymore. Instead, I am defining myself as Yvette and trying to find/create space to allow this current process to happen. What does it look like to be me? And is excellence constraining the dynamic ups and downs that I live?
Words like excellence don’t always give me that space. Excellence sees me as a high and mighty person who can do no wrong. I am up to date, I am in fashion and I’m doing it effortlessly. But I'm not top notch. I break down. I can be wrong. I make bad decisions. I don’t always fit what’s in fashion. I don’t deny the excellence of black people. But I can’t be branded with that word. I am a black woman with many other identities that twist and turn my habits. I am a black woman who has many ideas and no idea of what she’s doing in life. So give me space to break down and be a mess. Give me space to say the wrong thing and reflect.
If we as a race could win the centuries-long war against institutionalized racism, why is it that so many of us cannot secure the advantage after decades of freedom?
That which retards us is the worst of "us," those who disdain actual ascendancy gained by way of intellectual expansion and physical toil—who instead value the posture of an "urban," a "street," a "real" existence, no matter that such a culture threatens to render them extinct.
We need to start extolling the most virtuous of ourselves. It is time to celebrate the New Black Americans—those who have sealed the Deal, who aren't beholden to liberal indulgence any more than they are to the disdain of the hard Right. It is time to praise blacks who are merely undeniable in their individuality and exemplary in their levels of achievement.