I rose early for no reason other than my body was ready to do so. I went into my kitchen, turned on the Keurig as I do most mornings to prepare my daily cup of tea. I’m off today because it’s a holiday set aside to celebrate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Stepping away from that, which I will come back to in a minute, let me jump over to a video that caught my eye early this morning. Jada Pinkett-Smith posted a video to her social media accounts where she’s making a statement about the lack of color being represented and accepted at this year’s academy other than Chris Rock being asked to host. She’s disappointed, but forgiving of the fact that we have had to beg and plead to be invited to the table though we carry great power in this nation. I made a statement yesterday on my social media accounts that we need learn to love, honor, respect and support each other and not be as concerned about others giving us the pat on the back we feel like we need to have acknowledgement that we’re doing a great job. Her video stood out for me, not just because of the content of it, but because I had a situation recently that bothered me a little.
I was part of a conversation where someone said to me that (without divulging the actual conversation) they wanted me to pretty much do a dog and pony show, perform a few tricks, say my name a thousand times so that someone would know who I was and reward me for the hard work I do. While he was talking, I thought about the tons of awards that I already have, yet the few I see others with and still I need to put on a show like I’m in the middle of the three ring circus and if I do well, I may be asked to come back again. It didn’t matter that in a year’s time, I had received four high honors where some had yet to receive any, yet I have to do something extra special and the premise was, “so that they can know your name; know who you are.” My first thought was, they still need to know my name and know who I am? Why am I being pointed out to do this extra two-step to be recognized further? Why are you not telling them who I am and what I am capable of doing? People know and remember the names and talents of those they want to remember and that dog and pony show won’t matter. I realized at that moment that I’m not a hoop jumper and my days of putting on a dog and pony show to be seen and heard are in my past because I did the most, I stood out, I played the game and starting over by doing those things I’ve spent a lifetime doing just to get another small pat on the back isn’t what or who I am. I have the expectation that if I am to be rewarded for a task/job well done, that it will come my way because of the contributions I put forth that shouldn’t include that show full of stars and lights, fancy talk, Sunday attire and a smile that would plastered on only for that occasion. I should have the ability to be recognized along-side those who are awarded for doing very little when it’s clear I do a lot more. I was insulted and I relayed that sentiment because I know the power I wield is worth more than song and dance I was being asked to do in order to be seen and heard. Ask anyone, they see me and I have no doubt they hear me and what I produce is right in your face, but in a world where that’s not enough for ME, I choose not to tell someone a story they should already know because the end product you received, came from me or was there a mysterious person who you gave credit to for the great job I did. I’m not the only one who encounters that tactic daily, but I am the one who will not be placed in center stage to perform a show when you already know and have seen just how good I am, so if you’re going to reward me, thank you and if not, I’m still good because I know how to pat my own self on the back and encourage myself. I don’t do what I do for a golden statue from you because if what I provide has a positive impact on one person, then I’ve done what I’ve set out to do. My audience is not those who want me to stand before them and plead for my talent and work to be accepted, but it’s the people I help who need a better understanding so that they can have a productive life. With that in mind, I stand with Jada when she says we no longer have to beg and plead for respect or attention when we can provide that for ourselves. For me, I’m happy, healthy and someone’s life is better because of the product I provide and that right there is my acknowledgement of the good job I do and that works for me.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wanted more for us and he fought so that, hopefully, w wouldn’t have to fight as hard. He took punches, kicks, screams, death threats, his life being monitored twenty-four seven, the lives of his wife and children at risk everyday, yet he didn’t play nice on the playground to make those who thought they mattered more feel good about themselves. Instead he took the road that paved a way for me and others like me to see that we can have, live and do better for ourselves and we should never give up striving for that, if not for ourselves, than for those who are coming up with and after us. Everyone deserves a world of equality and justice and no person is born entitled without putting in the work. The point is to make sure everyone has an equal opportunity to achieve the same goal without any one person being put in a place to perform extra for something someone got because they know somebody or because they are stereotyped as being the person who should get the upper hand simply because their skin tone is a few shades lighter. When is that hurdle ever left behind in the rear view window, never to be seen again? There are those who don’t really want to see us succeed, but telling us they do is more of the politically correct thing to say. We have the power to make a change, but it won’t occur if we continue following the status quo. I agree with Jada Pinkett-Smith that we need to do some things different and not scratch and claw for recognition, but it’s time we did more to recognize ourselves in a way that gives us inner peace. Those we thought we wanted that pat on the back from aren’t as important to our livelihood as be may believe; we just have to make the moves to make sure we are in position to control our own livelihood. It’s time to stand up, rise and and do what we need to do to say it’s okay if i’m not invited to the table because I have this really nice table over on the other side of the room that it fit around right nicely. I look good at that table, I feel magnificent at that table and at that table there is joy and love for me that though you may have wanted me to believe I wanted and needed from you, I really didn’t. I was going along with what I had been taught, but now it’s time for me to be the teacher because I’ve sat under teachings that provide me with the sustenance I needed and some I didn’t, yet i’m going to take it, nonetheless and use it to show those coming behind me that they can make a difference without begging and pleading to be let in through a door that never had my name on it to begin with. Yeah, it’s beyond time to take stock in self-worth and walk into your destiny and stop leaving that destiny to someone to provide.
Rise up, or Nah? I say rise up and not just walk, but run into the life you were meant to have and not one that has been planned out for you. Where you see a brick wall, bring along a sledgehammer and knock that sucker down. When you see a river that you don’t believe you can swim across, learn to swim better than any Olympic swimmer and get your behind to the other side. When the valley is deep and rugged, come with an ATV that can get you across that rough terrain. When you no longer see a path, be the first to build one so that one day your name can be on that street as the one who paved the way. Where you see that others are weak and you’re the strongest, jump in and bring to the table what’s needed for success for all involved. Where you have the means and the know how, develop a DIY (do it yourself) mentality and move on to the next impossible task, proving the impossible is possible. You don’t need a pat on the back when you know the power of what you bring to the table. Design a tool that looks like a hand and every time you feel that you aren’t getting recognized for your achievements, use that tool to pat your own self on the back and keep it moving and then when you have the opportunity, you take the time to pat someone on the back not because you made them put on an embarrassing, unnecessary show, but because you truly believe they provided what needed to be celebrated.
Rise up, or Nah? Yeah, I say rise up and help to change a generation that seems to be lost within themselves, not knowing how to get out. Our children want not because they are being told and shown that they are nothing. They are down because the generation before them was down and still found a way to survive so they have no problem with just surviving to make it from birth to death. Some don’t even care if death comes for them early because they couldn’t see beyond the day they were living in. They saw no future filled with happiness, family, love and respect. They saw ridicule, disenchantment, bitterness, disappointment and most of all, no way out because no one cared enough to help them. We have the power to help a generation rise, who want to rise and believe that not everyone you encounter want your help and that’s okay too, but for those who do, find a way to make a difference in their lives.
The time to rise up is in every second of every day. What will you choose? Rise Up, Or Nah?