Black Panther Beauty

I’m loving this women’s history month. Thanks to the dozens of you who emailed me and shared my last blog on the tension between Black Women and White Women.

This morning I want to turn to beauty.

My friend Jamaican-Canadian novelist and pianist Maria Corley invited me to share on my life as an artist and an agent of transformation in her series Finding Beauty. In the midst of so much bad news and worry, Maria wanted to interview artists and community builders who create beauty. I recommend this series to you. I listen to podcasts when I'm driving or walking, and it feels like a super quick way to get myself back to my heart.

Finding beauty opens the heart while strengthening it. The only tattoo I have on my body is a black panther's head right in the center of my chest. It's a reminder to myself to be courageous--another heart word. Last night I saw Black Panther actress Danai Gurira accept an award from Essence Magazine. In her speech she tells the story of meeting Susan L. Taylor, former Essence editor, when she was nine years old. Susan held her face within her hands, looked her deep in the eyes, and said "You are beautiful."

Danai never forgot it and she touched back on it again and again throughout her life.

I have a similar story. When I was fourteen years old, I started attending an all girls boarding school in Westchester, NY. Although I had grown up only twenty or thirty miles away from the school in the South Bronx, I experienced extreme culture shock. I had never seen so much blond hair in my life. I felt like I was choking from so much whiteness. Sometimes I looked in the mirror and was surprised to see how dark my skin was because there were so few girls who looked like me. Well, one Sunday evening, Madeline L'Engle came to lead our chapel service. There were very few girls there for some reason. Thus, we had an intimate fireside chat with her. She spoke about flying when she was a kid. I remember after it was over she spoke with me one on one. She said, "Amanda! Amanda!" and then a bunch of words that I didn't understand including "celestial." Then she looked at me and asked "Do you know what your name means?" I shook my head no. She said, "You are loved. Beloved." It shook me and I, a kid in foster care from the Bronx, held on to it tightly and secretly for almost forty years.

Can you find beauty in a young woman or girl today? Can you really see her and take the time to affirm her out loud?

That's my challenge to you this week. Affirm a young woman or girl out loud to her face. Find that beauty!

Peace and love,