Nia (Purpose): To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
When I look in the mirror, I see Deborah-Lolli-Mom-Aunt-Sister-Friend. But when I step outside of my door, the world sees Black Woman; and sometimes they see Angry Black Woman, or Running Late Black Woman. My older sons are 27-29. They are hard working, well mannered, intelligent, and kind. But they are Young Black Men. And on bad days, they are Saggin’ Black Man, Gay Black Man, and Silly Black Man. When my brother was not being Loving Black Man, he was Loud Black Man. My sweet, gentle, 14-year-old cousin is destined to become Big Black Man.
Years ago, a friend working at a hotel front desk was once chewed out by an angry hotel guest because his shirt was wrinkled. Would another black man be passed over for a job because my unkempt friend was the first Professional Black Man the hiring manager saw that day?
As much as we would like to think our behavior and decisions effect only us, and at most those closest to us…it’s just not so. Ask the people who fit the description, are being pulled over for DWB, or are followed through stores just because.
Fair or unfair, in this country African Americans and other minorities do not have the luxury of being seen only as individuals. Whether we admit it or not, we’ve even used “They” in reference to “Those People” when sadly shaking our heads at bad behavior.
I want this to be about me. I really do. I want Nia to be about MY purpose. Why am I here? What is MY reason for living? But it’s not that simple. Sure…I get to be who I am and do what I do; but I must do it always with the underlying purpose of uplifting the African American community, because very often, I am the first impression some people get.