by Tracy Clayton | via Buzzfeed |
When First Lady Michelle Obama took to the podium at Dr. Maya Angelou’s memorial service, she spoke of how Dr. Angelou inspired and affirmed her as a black woman growing up in America.
As she spoke of Dr. Angelou encouraging her, she did the same thing for black women watching at their computers.
1. When she reminded us that though the world may try to convince us otherwise, the way we were made is good enough.
“She taught us that we are each wonderfully made, intricately woven, and put on this earth for a purpose far greater than we could ever imagine.”
2. When she spoke of how Dr. Angelou reminded us that black women are beautiful.
“The first time I read Phenomenal Woman, I was struck by how she celebrated black women’s beauty in a way that no one had ever dared to before. Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace.”
3. When she told us that she grew up with the same struggles brought on by the pressure to achieve an unattainable standard of beauty, just like us.
“As a child, my first doll was Malibu Barbie. That was the standard for perfection. That was what the world told me to aspire to. But then I discovered Maya Angelou, and her words lifted me right out of my own little head.”
“Her message was very simple: She told us that our worth had nothing to do with what the world might say.”
4. When she told us that she, too, knows what it feels like to have her status as a woman challenged because of who she is.
“Dr. Angelou’s words sustained me on every step of my moments. Through lonely moments in ivy-covered classrooms … through long years on the campaign trail where at times my very womanhood was dissected and questioned.”
5. When she told us that we don’t have to apologize for who or what we are.
“At a time when there were such stifling constraints on how black women could exist in the world, she serenely disregarded all the rules with [her] fiercely passionate, unapologetic self.”
6. When she illustrated how affirming and contagious one black woman’s confidence can be.
“She rolled up like she owned the place … and I was so completely awed and overwhelmed by her presence … she made me feel like I owned the place, too.”
7. When she reminded us again that who we are is okay.
“In so many ways, Maya Angelou knew us. She knew our hope, our pain, our ambition, our anger, our shame. And she assured us that despite it all — in fact, because of it all — we were good.”
8. And again, for good measure.
“She paved the way for me, and Oprah, and so many others just to be our good ol’ black woman selves.”
9. And again, because we can never, ever hear it too much.
“She showed us that eventually, if we stayed true to who we are, then the world would embrace us.”