Shining a spotlight on the importance of self-care has been a focal point of many Black literary artists through time, with truly living unapologetically as the ultimate in self-care.
The early works of Langston Hughes are an example of the desire of people of color to live unapologetically, as he notes, in The Letters of Langston Hughes, “In all my life I have never been free. I have never been able to do anything with freedom, except in the field of my writing.” As James Baldwin wrestled with his own self-care, he shared in his 1984 article, “Go the Way Your Blood Beats” in The Village Voice, “You have to go the way your blood beats. If you don’t live the only life you have, you won’t live some other life, you won’t live any life at all…”. Both writers attempted to bring a collective voice to the struggles of being ones’ true self and how living unapologetically was something difficult to obtain for many Black people.
This collective voice continues to thread through current day as we hear Amanda Gorman share in her poem “The Hill We Climb” and it’s first line, “When day comes, we ask ourselves, where can we find light in this never-ending shade?” She sets the aspirational tone for us to accept and appreciate our differences. “For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it.”
Being one’s true self can come with obstacles and roadblocks. The challenge to live unapologetically can put a person in fear of job loss, discrimination, violence, stereotyping, and even legal repercussions. If we are to seek a better tomorrow, we must be more open and accepting to what it means for all to live unapologetically or as we say at Empower…#LiveEmpowered
During this Black History Month, a question to ponder is how can you encourage others to live unapologetically?
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