It’s that time when people start making their New Year’s Eve resolutions, their #fitlife goals (mine is #FitKhalifa, keep up!), and thank those that have impacted their lives this year. For me, it has been a rollercoaster 2018. I started off the year with a new kidney and I am closing it out as an underemployed (subscribe to Kevito Says) black man in New York City. All in-between I have had my fair share of epic highs (seeing the On The Run II tour, meeting Little Dragon), delicious experiences (dinner with Edouardo Jordan) and frustrating obstacles (fighting bill collectors) to overcome, which has taught me a valuable lesson in gratitude.
“If you don’t take inventory of your blessings, ingratitude will try to steal them from you.” — African Proverb
Black women continue to demonstrate incredible, miraculous, awe-inspiring acts of love, strength, resistance, resilience, kindness, ferocity, and determination that destroys the #BlackSuperwoman myth and doesn’t fit into one nicely-shaped descriptor. In my life, black women have overcome police and political brutality, inequality from both white-and-black men, indescribible ignorance and direct attacks on their mental and physical health, and more—all the while sashaying past the shiiite like they are under a sunshower of rare diamonds.
A woman like my wife, for starters, has been 1000% in my corner, a dear friend, a life partner, a shoulder to cry on, a cold water of truth for my hard-headed lookin’ arse face, and a humble caregiver who was right there with me when I first started dealing with my FSGS kidney disease. For those who don’t know the story, I got you covered, but since this year has gone on it has opened up new paths and possibilities, which left me somewhat unsure of myself and a bit scared. My wife, however, doesn’t blink in the face of a challenge. It is like watching Russell Westbrook or Brittney Griner get ready to storm the rim for a dunk.
Thank you, Dani, for always believing in me in technicolor and surround sound. Thank you for being the swift kick of honesty that keeps me focused on greatness. Thank you for loving me despite my flaws, helping me to learn more about myself as a man, having my back in a tight, non-Widows-inspired jam, and being my “right arm” to shield me from negativity and fear. There truly aren’t enough words in existence to properly celebrate all that you do, but I didn’t want to let another second go by without letting you know just how thankful I am for you saving my life.
Thank you, Kendra, Jamila, Noname, Lee Mo, Joyce, and Tangina, for making music that speaks to my soul, brightening my days when I was really stuck in a dark place, supporting my journey with kind words and advice, and for crafting an honest voice of expression that inspires me to do the same. Thank you, Norjie, Anastasia, Haarlem, Monesia, Darian, and Bukunmi, for representing the real in an industry that’s made of plastic, taking no frills from anybody, championing the next crop of artists and executives, and shifting the culture to a more balanced playing field (while being cool AF at the same damn time).
Your work ethic, creativity, and levels of execution are lessons that have saved me from descending into stagnancy and complacency.
Thank you Jamilah, Vickey, Naima, Nneka, and Mika for keeping me on the level, speaking truth to power, and letting love lead the way in all that you do. Your respective energy and effort has been the inspiration that fuels the battery in my own back. The way that I push myself is thanks to witnessing the dedication and discipline that you all put into the work. The way that you all utilize the finer points of wordplay, imagery, debate and discussion are attributes that I’ll forever be a fan of and continue to support.
Thank you Starrene, Sudaara, Jade, Jessica, Diamond, Lucinda, Alice, Mary, Raven, Alyson, Tracy, Britney, Salenta, Vatana, Mankaprr, Tara, Cybille, Tatiana, Edica, Nazneen, Erin, Cherline, Rena, Bella, Alicia, and Nik, for practicing self-love publicly, exhibiting patience when dealing with obstacles (or with my own complaints), and supporting black creatives with your efforts, your words, and your clicks. Having you all near and dear to me has saved my life from being empty of color commentary, culture, and comedy. I cannot express enough gratitude for the sheer volume of cool experiences, gut-busting jokes, and stream of consciousness riff sessions that you’ve all shared with me throughout my days.
Thank you Joi, Danielle, Salima, Sam, Numa, Tagan, Ally, Lena, Ava, Viola, Eve, Jamila, Kari, Angélique, Tchaiko, Evelyn, Karama, April, Sassy, Lea, the Women of OkayAfrica and Okayplayer, NAO, Antoinette, Christina, Chevon, Niki, Sinat, Cynthia, Kyndal, Scottie, and Rhonesha, for welcoming me deeper into the world of women filmmakers and creatives, humoring an aspiring screenwriter with advice and critiques, engaging in talks about my favorite subjects—music and food—and showcasing why black women should be leading the way into the future.
If I didn’t say your name, please blame the mind and not the heart.
There are a lot of known-and-unknown black women who have helped this working black creative to get busy with the pen, pitch work for publication, and gain opportunities to participate in the current black expressionist explosion. Thankfully for us, they are all going to do their damnedest to ensure that we all don’t veer too far off-course into Alt-Right Land and add #BlackExcellence to everything they do for eons to come.