Dear Viola…THANK YOU!

Am I the only one who woke up this morning with a little extra pep in my step? I couldn’t stop thinking about last night’s Emmy awards! I’m not even going to lie, I watch award shows primarily for the fashion. Last night was different. When Regina King, Uzo Aduba and Viola Davis received their statues I was cheering from my little makeshift bed in my empty apartment! History was made! My theme music just got a little louder.

I could go on and on about why this was all things amazing, wonderful, gratifying, etc. But Viola Davis said it best in her succinct yet powerful speech.

“ ‘In my mind I see a line. And over that line I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line.’ That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800’s. And let me tell you something. The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Norwalk, Shonda Rhimes. People who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black. And to the Taraji P. Henson’s, the Kerry Washington’s, the Halle Berry’s, the Nicole Beharie’s, the Megan Good’s, to Gabrielle Union; thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you to the Television Academy.”

In that moment black girls everywhere did the cabbage patch, fist pump and let out an audible woosah – in that order. In that moment WE ALL WON! Because we know the problem isn’t just in Hollywood. Everyday life can feel like a tricky balancing act of being strong but not too bossy, educated but not intimidating, direct but not overly forceful, heard but not too loud. Hollywood isn’t the only place where opportunity can be a real struggle. Viola’s speech paid homage to our past. She spoke the names of other women who are grinding just as hard to break the mold everyday. Her historic win as the first African American woman to ever win best actress in a drama series paved the way for others who we still may not know.

The lesson is there’s room for all of our gifts. No one demonstrated that better than Taraji Henson who would’ve taken home the Emmy, Oscar, Tony, Grammy, BET AND Peoples Choice awards for the Best Sista Girl Supporter if that category ever existed. Her genuine joy, despite not taking home a trophy of her own, just shows how we’re really all in this together.

Viola never misuses her platform. She never dims the light when she’s on stage with a captive audience. No matter the backhanded articles that are written about her (remember “less classically beautiful”) she uses those opportunities as teachable moments while letting all of us pile on her back and keep moving forward!

For breaking barriers with grace, dignity while dropping some serious knowledge…we THANK YOU!

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