Entrepreneurship, Social

HERSTORY IN BLACK

March 1, 2017
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I shared with you on my social media that I was featured in a digital photo series called “HerStory In Black” profiling Black women from Ontario. I was so honoured to be included in this major project produced by Emily Mills of How She Hustles.  On Monday the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) hosted an event celebrating all 150 of us. And I almost didn’t go…because I was all up in my feelings.

That whole day I procrastinated finding something to wear, I  didn’t take the time I knew it needed to sort that out. Once I did begin my clothes hunt, I ended up changing 5 times. I wanted to look good. I thought to myself “Maybe if I look great it will distract from the fact that I don’t have my life together.”  The fact that I’m “in the meantime”…in progress…in transition. I was waging war with the little voice in my head that was saying “the reason you were featured is because of who you were and you no longer have that job…you’re no longer that person.”

I eventually plucked up the energy to go. Once I got there I flitted about the room, capturing video for my instastories, eyes on my screen, busying myself, walking quickly, air kiss after air kiss, having fast convos. (If you were watching my instagram live you saw it happening in real time.)

It wasn’t until after I started listening to d’bi.young anitafrika and Jully Black’s words on stage that I started to humble myself. I heard messages of perseverance; calls to push through the personal and collective struggles. At one point the entire room was chanting ”  “I’m a Girl, I’m a Lady, I’m a Woman, I’m a Queen… I’m everything I can dream.”

I migrated purposely to the back of the room and stood with Victor to take it all in. To witness the beauty, the poignancy of Black women shining, twinkling in all their glory. Imagine how many of them felt like they didn’t belong in their fields, imagine how many of them were passed over, had to work twice as hard, were misunderstood, were never recognized in the national conversation.But kicked ass in spite of all that. Imagine all the stories…150 stories! I started to realize that every, doctor, artist, scientist, politician, journalist, executive…blogger in the room… is on a journey. We all deserve to be seen and to be seen for where we are on our journeys.

This was so not about me y’all. This was so much bigger than me.

I wish I had taken  more pictures but as I mentioned I was busy, busying myself. There are so many other Black women who could have been in this room. If you’re one of those women and you’re reading this, I hope you know that this is just a tiny subset of Black female excellence in Canada. Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.  Thank you for reading!

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With Emily Mills, Founder Of How She Hustles& Visionary Behind Herstory In Black.

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With My Dear Friend, The Fierce & Unstoppable Karlyn Percil-Merceica

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With My Dear Friend The Incomparable Nam Kiwanuka

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L-R: TSN’s Kayla Grey, Myself, CBC’s Nicole Brewster-Mercury & Tashauna Reid

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L-R: MP Celina C Chavannes, Emily Mills, Moi

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MPs Celina C Chavannes & Arif Virani With Some Of The Women Featured In Herstory In Black.

 

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Celebration In Full Swing At The CBC (Photo: Tashauna Reid)

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9 Comments

  • Reply Elma March 2, 2017 at 9:41 am

    As I read your commentary on “HER STORY IN BLACK” I felt the ‘US’ ALL of us and I though your reading this poem, one of my poems from my book “Standing Tall In Echoes Of Destiny”- A name that was not just pick but is DEEP, Deep for me, you, them and all passed on and yet to come, those who can relate: THE JOURNEY OF LIFE>>>>>>
    The puzzle of life’s reality
    Will sometimes bring uncertainty,
    Your dreams at times
    Are blossoms of the imaginary truth—
    The after mat confusion of a seemly realm of life
    That might surface on your journey
    When you least expect.
    You waver in the distance
    As your world seem to sleep,
    Now your comfort zone is at risk
    As you float upon your feet,
    The shivers are for real
    As you look beyond your dreams,
    Should I be sure and take a chance—
    On what it seem to be?
    Or should I let my prison cell—
    Take full control of me?
    The confusion of my inner self
    Has captivated my soul,
    And my spiritual connections
    Have overwhelmed my self-control,
    Be careful what you wish for, as I was always told.
    The Joys of life could come around as many dreams unfold,
    Your inner strength will make you sound
    And purify your soul.
    Upon the tide you float along, with confident you hold!
    The time has come, don’t circumvent.
    Enjoy your days of old.
    Elma Gabriel-Mayers

    • Reply Nneka Elliott March 5, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Thanks for this Elma!!

  • Reply Michelle Joseph March 2, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks for this article. You literally captured EXACTLY the way I felt. I was overwhelmed, nervous, scared to be in the room, but at the end, I was so very proud. Thanks for writing the article. It is BEAUTIFUL!

    • Reply Nneka Elliott March 5, 2017 at 11:56 am

      Thanks Michelle!

  • Reply Molly March 3, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Hi Nneka,
    Thanks for putting your truth out to the public. Being authentic is very important than holding a title. Your job /career should not be what defines you. Sadly, for many of us, especially professional, smart and intelligent black women who attains to be apart of mainstream society we get caught up in that zone (me included at one point)) and loose our true selves. Our egos often get to us sometimes that we fail to see that our ancestors, forefathers who fought to make life better for us, didn’t care much about title. They live their life selflessly, embodied humility, hope, strength, self-determination and a sense of community in the midst of adversities. As a result, they lived life based on their true inner spirits and beauty and not the outer beauty. As such, the way how they looked on the outside (materially speaking) wasn’t a distraction for them. It took me a separation from my first love and the father of my child to start loving me, and most importantly, in the past year after quitting my job and walking away from a financially secured position to start living my truth. Mentally, I was in a prison and was slowly loosing my self that would have definitely affect my daughter. I stopped worrying about titles and what others may think of me because I no longer have a job, especially one in the public sector, which so many people who I know will give up a lot to be in, without knowing my back story and what I was going through. Trust me, it was hard to do as a single mother, but one that was necessary. Like you, initially I questioned myself and a couple of times I cried. Looking back, I realized that as humans, it was necessary. I am a much better person now, even though I have not yet secured a long-term role. My daughter understands, that being successful does not mean that you have to be in a certain job, or have a title attached to your name. It means making sacrifices, walking away form things that may seemed comfortable, facing your fears to find your purpose and most importantly, helping others while going through adversities. I am now living my truth without the title. I know so many people who currently has cushy roles in the public and private sector but they are mentally living in a prison and the fear of loosing the title, the ego and the money cause them to stay pass their due date. Nneka, don’t ever feel like you are less than because you are no longer at CP24 , or has that title . You are living your truth and on the path to finding your purpose in life. Part of which is to illicit true discussions through your blogs and to make others like me feel assured that they are on the right path.

    • Reply Nneka Elliott March 5, 2017 at 11:54 am

      This was so awesome Molly. Thank you so much for sharing your story and reaffirming my decision to share mine. I really appreciate your words of support!

  • Reply Claire March 5, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Nneka, this is a great post! I can really relate to how you felt. I remember my friends thought I should go on Monday night. I thought they were out of their minds. Then Em was like, “Are you sure you can’t come…?” I looked at my phone like… O_o “Oh shoot!” LOL

    I didn’t think I deserved* to go, but God worked it all out!

    *What is it about us Black women and what we think we deserve, eh? *thinking emoji*

    • Reply Nneka Elliott March 5, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Thanks for reading Claire! Had no idea so many people would relate to this.Definitely a topic to explore further eh.

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