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The Reality of Black Brilliance

Image via Congressional Black Caucus Foundation www.cbcfinc.org

With or without your acknowledgment, the sun still shines. In the same way, with or without your acknowledgment, black people are still brilliant.

I’ve been taking the time to educate my children about the hundreds of black inventors that have pushed our world forward. Granville T. Woods’ induction telegraph system allowed trains to communicate with each other to avoid collisions on the tracks and Dr. Patricia Bath’s LaserPhaco Probe corrected cataracts, a condition that eventually leads to blindness. I also teach them about black rulers like King Mansa Musa, who ruled the Mali Empire and was estimated to be worth around $400 billion dollars in today’s currency. That would make him the richest man to have ever walked the earth. Did you know that the first woman to start a bank was a black woman named Maggie L. Walker? A statue was erected recently in her hometown of Richmond, Virginia. She’s remembered as a humanitarian, teacher and strategic business woman.

These facts weren’t mentioned in my text books when I was younger but I won’t fail my children in the same way. It’s imperative for children to see people who look like them being exceptional. Many modern day television shows display a side of our community that is not a reflection of the whole. I can honestly say that most of the black people I know are highly intelligent, creative and educated. In a world that has done everything to make us understand “our place,” we have excelled well beyond any physical or mental boundaries placed on us. Our chief attribute is that we are resilient. According to Forbes, black women are the fastest growing business owners in the United States. This isn’t coincidental because if someone doesn’t hire us, we’re resourceful enough to build it ourselves.

My husband and I have bought and sold our home, lived abroad and now we live near the beach around people double our age who have worked their entire lives to retire in Florida. When I reveal that I taught English at several Japanese schools, I’m often met with confused looks. The apprehension that others feel when they see a black woman who is well-spoken and well-off is all but priceless. It undermines the narrative of black poverty and hopelessness. They sense that we’re just as brilliant, strategic and resourceful as they are. Their suspicions are true.

With or without your acknowledgment, the sun still shines. In the same way, with or without your acknowledgment, black people are still brilliant