Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Walking in Purpose: Ameena Matthews ROCKS!

I had the pleasure of watching Black Girls Rock after a busy day on Monday.  I always enjoy the show, and I'm always impressed by how well put-together and entertaining it is.  This year did not disappoint. While I enjoy the performances, I LOVE to watch the acceptance speeches.  This year they honored a personal hero of mine, Marian Wright Edelman, and other amazing women such as Queen Latifah, Misty Copeland, and Venus Williams.  However, my absolute favorite acceptance speech for the evening was from Ameena Matthews.

Just lovely.  Picture borrowed from here

I've watched her acceptance speech at least five times, and my wonderful husband found it online so I could watch it whenever the spirit moves me.

Ameena is a community activist who has dedicated herself to minimizing violence in Chicago. I was first made aware of Ameena's amazing dedication and commitment to her work via the documentary The Interrupters.  Check it out if you haven't seen it.  Then, I was completely smitten with this sister when I saw her on the Colbert Report.

I told my husband that she's got "it," meaning, not only does she do commendable work, but she has a winning personality.  She's charismatic. She draws people in.

I found so much inspiration in her acceptance speech.  Check it out for yourself:

I love to witness people walking in their purpose, and purpose is all over Ameena.  You can feel that she is convicted by her purpose.  Her gratitude was palpable.  I had a few big takeaways from her brief acceptance speech.

1. Be comfortable in your own skin and always know who you are.  Ameena began by greeting the audience with "As-salamu alaykum" and acknowledging that she may not look like what is "mainstream."  My favorite part of the speech, "Come on, Look at this gold tooth and this scarf!" Ameena was being raised up on a national stage for being just who she is.  It's just enough, and it's just RIGHT!

2. Honor your elders.  She knows that Marian Wright Edelman is EVERYTHING!

3. You have to see yourself where you want to go.  She reminded her daughter that they used to watch the show and said that they would get there one day.  They spoke that thing into existence! She is Sojurner! She is Harriet! She IS Ameena Matthews!

4. Know that your life's work divinely inspired.  I know that Ameena's is.  She acknowledged it, and you could feel it.  I was watching like, "Is this Musliminah about to start shouting?!?!" Ha! Go in, Sister Ameena! Let the spirit move you!

5. Honor your spouse.  Ameena acknowledged that she draws strength from her husband. She said he saw her purpose, and he's a part of it.

6. Make a difference in this world.  Ameena reminded all of us to reach out and pour into the life of a young person.

I just watched it again. I still have chills and goosebumps.  Ameena, you absolutely rock! Keep doing God's work. Keep inspiring us all to do the same.

Until next time . . . I'll be over here rockin' as well!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

On This Double Life

Hello all.  Happy Saturday!

Haven't been blogging much, but I'm always thinking about how I'm going to carve out some time to get back to here.  This is my favorite space on the web.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about who I am as I negotiate my identities as a newlywed, professor, spiritual being, and so on.  I started think about the things that make me, me. When I think of who I am, I think about . . .

A business suit paired with a big pair of Fulani hoops.

Love my big ole hoops! They're conversation starters.

Pinning and cooking new quinoa recipes to my Pinterest boards, all while feigning for Shipley's Donuts.

Loving female empowerment, but still wanting my hubby to get my oil changed.

Contemplating buying a sensible sedan or SUV, all while having an affinity for slabs (It's the Houston in me, y'all; I love the creativity!).

Creative, unique, and all their own. There's no place like home.
Working on a journal article, while daydreaming about Monday's Big Freedia concert. Disagree if you'd like, but twerking is an artform.

Thinking about intersectionality and Black feminist thought, while loving bad reality TV.

Calling a housekeeper when things get out of control around the house, while knowing I'm the first generation of women in my family who don't clean houses for a living.

Loving bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, and Lil Kim's Hardcore. 

Knowing long Bible scriptures and every line of UGK's Tell Me Somethin' Good by heart.

Alvin Ailey concerts in February and dropping it like it's hot to Uncle Luke.

They're coming

Solving interesting math problems while reading lots of fashion blogs.

Teaching college courses, and rushing home from class to get to a Pete Rock & CL Smooth concert.

Enjoying academia, but being grounded enough to know that it is a luxury and a blessing to be paid to write about your thoughts.

Extending love and goodwill toward others, but also knowing the power of getting someone together if needed.

Devouring hamachi maki sushi rolls, but still counting down until I can sink my teeth into some good old Frenchy's.

I'm all of these things.  Responsible, yet sometimes frivolous.  Knowing the value of saving a dollar, but sometimes saying "f*ck it" and buying the shoes.  Loving to pour over academic journals, but sometimes saying "to hell with it" and seeing what shenanigans NeNe and the housewives are up to.

Isn't it wonderful learning to love all the parts of you? I almost titled this post "Contradictions," but then I realized that these things aren't.  They only become contradictions when you try to live up to some invisible standard of what is "right" and "appropriate." And now that I think about it, I'm not even sure if "Double Life" is a fair title.  These are all facets of me and my life, and they're all happening simultaneously.  I'm blessed to have such a wide range of experiences and to share my life with so many people from so many different walks of life. All of these experiences make me exactly who I am, and I'm proud of it.

Until next time . . . I'll be bouncing to Big Freedia during my office hours. (I'm joking . . . maybe).