This Is Something I Can Do Now
“This is something I can do now” are words of belonging and attainment expressed by a young Black girl from Detroit when celebrating the historic barrier broken today by Kamala Harris — a Black woman sworn in as Vice President of the United States of America.
Today makes me think of the importance of representation and the impostor syndrome that many young and old Black boys and girls confront daily.
Impostor Syndrome is the voice in your head that tells you you’re not good enough.
When you’re Black, impostor syndrome hits harder as a byproduct of racial discrimination.
The impostor syndrome is both racial and generational.
It’s racial in the sense that African-Americans, through racial discrimination, have been systemically excluded from being in certain rooms or holding certain positions.
It’s generational that American society has told Black men and women who they could and could not be over hundreds of years.
My impostor syndrome began early.
As a young boy, I remember telling my family on a sunny Sunday afternoon that I was going to go to Harvard. Without hesitation, they jokingly replied, where? Almost to imply that the dream would never be attainable.
Although disappointing, there laid some truth in their response. However painful, it wasn’t an attack on my personal accomplishments but a reality check that there was an education system out there with restricted resources & access for young Black boys like me.
Their intent may not have been to demean, but words matter, and my inner child was hurt by them.
I still hold onto that today.
It wasn’t my last encounter with impostor syndrome. The second would be in high school, attending an elite high school in Los Angeles. The third was in graduate school, where I didn’t feel like I belonged, and often at times was the only African American in the classroom.
Once in rooms where I had worked myself to get into, I still questioned my belonging.
Many Black boys and girls also grow up with this trauma of the unattainable.
Told that they can’t do or be something.
Restricted by access and resources.
Boxed in with limited life choices.
How do you truly become your best self in a world that tells you that yourself holds no worth and is born limited?
That’s why achievements such as Kamala Harris and Barack Obama are so significant.
Obama inspired confidence within myself and for young Black boys across the country. Kamala Harris, dancing on the campaign trail wearing her chucks and rocking her pearls on Inauguration Day, has made young Black girls feel seen.
Young Black girls and boys can no longer feel invisible but can reach the highest positions in the land.
When I have a son or daughter, I’m going to tell them that not only can they go to Harvard, but they can also become the President, or Vice President, too.
Let’s stop telling young Black boys and girls who they can’t be.
The sky is the limit because of their melanin.
That is Black Excellence.