I mean… I… can fly like a bird in the sky.
That quote is the last line of my favorite poem, “Ego Tripping,” from the pen of one of the dopest poets who ever lived: Nikki Giovanni. I can’t remember who introduced it to me. I just know that I need it in my life like I do… air. Nikki’s words in general, but this poem in particular, is full of Black Girl Magic—a celebration of our divine… perfect… light—and when I read her words, every image, every thought, every proclamation, every memory, each and every letter, washes over me. Cleanses me. Reminds me. Swathes me in the history and power and beauty and deliciousness that comes with being a badass Black woman. That comes with stepping fully into she who is Denene.
From the moment I found out that I was carrying a girlchild in my belly, I knew that I wanted to tuck that magic deep down into her little soul. This was important to me because even as I thought about empowering my own babies with the gift of confidence and high regard for self, I didn’t feel like I possessed those things. The best way I knew how to teach my baby to square her shoulders and know that she’s baaaad was to surround her not only with stories and music that spoke directly to my little brown baby, but to stretch and bend and reach for material that moved beyond the obvious. That inspired. That told her the truth. Sure, I adored reading books by authors like Andrea Pinkney and Ezra Jack Keats and Vera B. Williams, each of whom made clear that stories featuring children of color mattered and were meaningful and lovely. But I was trying to raise a baby who would love listening to opera (Kathleen Battle’s So Many Stars) and jazz (Tony Bennett’s Playground and Louis Armstrong‘s Disney Songs The Satchmo Way) as much as she did the Teletubbies and Elmo, and who wouldn’t be afraid to raise a fist in the air when it came time to rep being a beautiful, strong, smart little black girl. So she might catch a little Alice Walker up in the glider, or a word or two of Toni Morrison whispered in her ear while she dreamed in her crib. I adored reading poetry to her most of all, particularly “Ego Tripping,” because, hello, it’s girl power at its finest.
There are so many moments in the poem that move me—that remind. But it is that last line, I think, that gives encouragement. Hope. That says to the reader, Black women are capable—that we have it in us to be who we want to be, do what we want to do and, perhaps most importantly, to affect long-lasting change. To leave a mark on this world.
I had that last line emblazoned on a bracelet years ago because, to me, the words are beautiful. Later, that bracelet morphed into my personal armor—a reminder when I’m wearing it to hold my chin up high and, in whatever I’m doing at the moment, to do what I can to leave a mark on the world.
Today, I ask you to join me in leaving a mark on the world by helping children—a deep passion of mine, indeed. During the month of August, I’m joining a passionate group of beloved online writers, photographers, video bloggers and Shot@Life Champions to share inspirational quotes for our children as part of the annual Blogust celebration. Every time you comment on, Tweet, Facebook, Instagram or pin on Pinterest this post (and those by other #Blogust contributors and on the Shot@Life and United Nations Foundation pages), one vaccine will be donated to a child around the world, up to 50,000.
It’s that simple: comment on, Tweet, Facebook or Pin this post, or like this post on the MyBrownBaby social media pages, and a child will get a life-saving immunization—a shot at life that could help somebody’s baby fly like a bird in the sky.
If you’ve got an inspirational, encouraging or fly quote to share, drop it in the comments section. Let’s inspire together!
Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.