I have learned that I have power. That was a hard lesson for any girl—especially a black girl—to learn, especially one raised in late 1960s and 1970s. It was extremely difficult to learn because society taught me directly and indirectly that little black girls were powerless.
For example, sexism told me that my gender disqualified me from power. Racism told me that my color excluded me from power. My socioeconomic status informed me that my background banned me from power. Misguided religion told me to relinquish all power. And so for years, I learned and accepted that I was barred, really forbidden, to make choices that supported and served me. I was unfortunately conditioned to believe that I was a lower-class black Christian girl who would never have influence, affluence, authority, or the ability to do anything that was not sanctioned by the powerful majority. And the saddest part is that I grew up, and on many levels, I functioned as though those limiting beliefs were true. I thought and behaved as if I were incapable, inadequate, and ill-equipped to make choices that honored me.
But thankfully, I learned. I discovered that I had power. I learned through trial and error that I had the ability to say no without providing any additional explanations. I learned that I had the right to discern what sustained me and what weakened me. I learned that I had the right to decide who and what enters my life and also determine who and what exits my life. I learned that I had the power to determine whom, when, and how I love. I had the right to advocate for myself and the right to advocate for others. I had the power to set personal boundaries to ensure that I stayed healthy, wealthy, and wise. I had the power to function and navigate in the world in a way that honored me. It was a hard lesson, but I learned that I have power. And you have power. We all do—if we embrace it and use it well.
I have also learned we can only effectively use our power when we are courageous enough to claim it, have integrity enough to use it, grateful enough to appreciate it, and humble enough to share it. I have learned that power is most authentic when you can “wear” it without a title, wear it without money, wear it without perks, and wear it without arrogance. It is most admired when you can equally wear it well in your house, the outhouse, the penthouse, or the White House. Power is most trusted when you can wear it well in times of concord and also wear it well in times of conflict. Power is also most respected when you can wear it well when you have authority over others and wear it well when you are only directing yourself. Power is most appreciated when you can wear it well in times of great delight and wear it well in times of great despair. Power is most transformative when you can wear it well in the service of others and not only wear it well in the service of self. Power, real power, must be worn well; it must be harnessed, controlled, and used for good—and not just the good of you.
We have power, and we have more power than we realize. So accept it, embrace it, honor it, and wear it well. Wear it with courage. Wear it with strength! Wear it with compassion! Wear it with humility. Wear it with gratitude. Wear it with understanding. Wear your power, and wear it well.
How are you wearing your power? Only you can decide.
(excerpt from ” I Have Learned A Few Things”. You can order today.