Now that the check has cleared………
I’m excited to announce that I was recently selected and awarded a prestigious writer’s grant courtesy of the National Black Journalist Fund as well as the International Women’s Media Foundation.
To be eligible for such a competitive prize, I had to meet certain requirements and submit recent work. My series of articles and photography covering the local #BlackLivesMatter protests last year which were featured in OUTvoices Nashville and Yopp won over the selection committee.
This has been a tough year for me, for too many reasons to list and while I make it a point not to feel sorry for myself, this grant was timely and much needed.
For me it’s a much needed sign, motivation, momentum, morale boost.
Look at God. Won’t she do it?
Aside from being blessed by the almighty, I received this award because I deserve this.
It’s true. For this post, I’m going to do things a little bit differently. I’m going to step out on faith and heed the wisdom of her excellency, Sister Shonda Rhimes. We live in a culture where people who look like me are vilified for voicing our accomplishments. Too often we’re forced to dim our light in a world that hates and envies us. Case in point, the Simone Biles ordeal this past summer. So for this post, we’re doing things a bit differently. I’m stepping into my purpose, and adorning my crown, unapologetically.
Sorry Not Sorry.
Why? Because I deserve this.
I deserve this because I’ve been putting in work since birth.
I deserve this because I’m harder on myself than I am others.
I deserve this for the countless times I was forced to work twice as hard to get half as far.
I deserve this for being drafted as the pristine ambassador for my entire race. Never allowed to be fallible, or happy, or human. Only to be resented and often exiled to an island for being too good at my job.
I deserve this because despite the number of times certain immediate relatives who were supposed to uplift me and protect me, schemed, plotted, and sabotaged with the toxicity, I stayed the course, remained focus, and emerged even more victorious.
I deserve this because even at my most flawed, I always acted in good faith. Which made it easier for me to course correct when necessary.
I deserve this because I evolved from the tragic protagonist who apologized for his own existence to the prodigious Herald of his mythical epic.
I deserve this because no matter how hungry, how humble, how overqualified, how hardworking, I’m regularly the last one hired and the first one fired.
I deserve this because no matter how many decks were stacked, no matter how many goalposts were shifted, no matter how dire circumstances became, I never compromised who I am or trespassed against others for a come-up.
I deserve this because in spite of all the horrors I survived, I never became a victim or a cliche. Rather I transformed into a diamond, a weapon, a machine, my own superhero, and a guardian to others.
I deserve this because of all of the other prizes I rightfully earned and will rightfully earn but will be denied.
I deserve this for each day I humbly pray for divine wisdom and the heavenly power to act on it.
I deserve this because as a high performing, overachieving perfectionist, I make every effort to be the best version of myself in all aspects of my existence.
I deserve this because the only L’s I’m taking are lessons learned.
I deserve this because I saved Superman, I’m better than Batman, and I’m straight out of a comic book.
I deserve this for the times this champion was gracious and humble when someone more deserving took the top prize.
I deserve this for the countless times this champion was gracious and humble when the least deserving was handed that which they didn’t earn.
I deserve this because as a descendant of greatness, I not only honor the ancestors with my work but also the patron saints who have helped forge my identity: Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Marie Laveau, Langston Hughes, Wilma Mankiller, Bruce Lee, Malcolm X, Nina Simone, Alan Turing, among others.
I deserve this because I regularly shoulder all of the troubles of the world just so the next person doesn’t have to stress.
I deserve this because I’m learning that many if not most of the troubles I blame myself for were never mine to begin with.
I deserve this because activism is my calling, my labor, my burden, my ministry. This Catholic Ronin believes there’s no greater act of love than fighting for equality and the humanity of the most vulnerable and the most marginalized.
I deserve this because this freedom fighter is willing to fight for the greater good by any means necessary.
I deserve this because when this Codebreaker embraces that which makes him unique, he is the perfect Storm.
I deserve this because my Muse keeps me a true Aquarius in using my talents as a ray to enlighten, entertain and empower others.
I deserve this because being hailed the Wyatt Earp of the Written Word, my craft regularly illustrates that the pen is mightier than the sword and often even the cape.
I deserve this because I understand the (r)evolution starts from within.
I deserve this because I continue to learn that self love is a super power and ultimate power is a mastery of self.
I deserve this because I am a testament to the origins of my surname.
I deserve this because I know my worth. There’s not a calculator, a super computer or a Mother Box in existence to quantify it.
I deserve this because this win is a tribute to my Squadron. Because while I’m an introvert and a loner who prides himself on being self-reliant, I’d be lying if I said others haven’t been a blessing in my journey. Some may have spoken an encouraging word in passing, others may have provided a business opportunity. I’m appreciative all the same. Because they weren’t obligated to do anything. Many of you have been instrumental in me becoming a better person. You all know who you are. Sadly, a few of you are no longer with us. All the more reason to honor you. And this victory is a return on that investment. I can’t thank you enough. This victory is as much all of yours as it is mine.
I deserve this because in spite of everything this victory is further evidence that I’m a child of destiny, blessed and highly favored, and to stay the course because this is a sneak preview of what’s to come.