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I, Little Colored Girl…

3 years ago

728 words

 

These are the days when I’m taken back to barrettes and braids, little corduroy jumpers and precious little shoes. Days like this and news like this take me back to childhood days of drawing on sidewalks and bikes with extra wheels. The careless days, the days when you knew you mattered and couldn’t ever imagine otherwise.

Because I was a lucky little colored girl.

Maya’s voice was big enough, the stories she told important enough, that my careless days were joyful days. I was a colored girl who mattered because the stories of little colored girls were being told, and read, and thought about. Little colored girls had, thanks to Maya, become people, too. Our preciousness had finally become manifest because her words so pierced through the minds and hearts of a nation that had not really stopped to see us.

And when I was old enough to start to understand that what made me “matter” was relative, that it grew in some eyes and shrank significantly in others, that’s when her stories became most important for me. I was a colored girl who could read and reflect, who could re-read as she got older and learn more and more from the stories… Maya’s voice was big enough, the stories she told important enough, that my days of sadness and confusion became learning days. I was a colored girl who could transform.

And now that I’ve fully stepped into the world on my own, making a woman’s choices along the way, her legacy looms large over me. I am a colored girl who understands that I walk on paths well trodden, that where I may have opportunity to push there will be others who follow, and that my actions in peace and thoughtfulness are the best way to honor those who’ve come before. Maya’s voice was big enough, the stories she told important enough, that my new challenges are illuminated by her beautiful wisdom. I am a colored girl who can transcend and perform.

Because of Maya, I never was and will never be “just” a colored girl. IĀ am a colored girl. Such knowledge is as protective as steel, as sacred as prayer, as warm as a glowing fire, as perfect as a rising sun. In my nothingness to some (to many), I am everything to more. I am everything to myself.

What we have left are the words, and the words, in time, will be the ultimate legacy. But for those of us who were privileged enough to have heard her speak or to feel the gravitas of her presence, she lives in us for just a little longer. Every little colored girl living inherits just a little bit of her grace. We get to divide it among ourselves, use it as we so choose. Some of us will wear it, display it proudly as we walk, speak it with power and share it with the little girls who follow us. We will teach the words because the words will live forever and ever. The grace, though, we have to kindle, grow, and give.

I am so sad today. My lungs can’t seem to fully fill with air and my heart just can’t seem to find its rhythm. We don’t get many heroes in this life, and so when they leave it is only right to stop and mourn. Dr. Angelou lived a life of great meaning and importance and so much of how I think and who I am is thanks to her lessons, stories and poems. My tears today come from gratitude more than they come from sadness. These words I type have a tinny sound, so small and inconsequential. I can only honor through a life of peace, dignity and wisdom. I can only show my gratitude through sharing the words, living the grace.

It is a cold and rainy day here in New England and now I know why. May you, dear reader, find peace and wisdom in your day. And if you have opportunity, read a poem or pick up a book. Most importantly, though, choose to do something kind today. May your act of humanity, however big or small, ripple through your community, your grace and presence radiate to others, your words be spoken with truth and power, your heroes loom large over your day.

Quiet Thoughts on Friday.

72 Replies to “I, Little Colored Girl…”

    1. Very true. šŸ™‚ I think that is the part that really got me through the day yesterday. Her legacy is just as large and rich as she is… it means so much to know that she’ll always be with us in a way.

    1. Britt, thank you so much for always being so supportive! I really can’t believe that this became Freshly Pressed, and it’s all thanks to you. šŸ™‚ I can’t wait to repay the kindness in the future. You know you mean a lot to me, but still, thank you all the same!!

      1. Whatever you put out into the Universe comes back to you. A-Ma, my beautiful mother-in-law, taught me that. So when you put a bit of honesty and beauty and emotion out there– like you did here– the Universe comes around and gives you a high five. It happens all of the time… just some times we don’t see it because of the crying children and what’s-for-dinner and termites. xoxo

    1. I suppose so! If only I could write this way more consistently–maybe in another life, when there are no children forever screaming in my ear! šŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks for stopping by. She will be missed, but the words will always be with us. I’m taking great comfort in seeing her words all over the place right now. It’s so nice to see people stop and remember.

  1. This was such a beautiful post, and I am glad I took some quiet time to read today. You brought tears to my eyes and opened them at the same time… Happy to repost and I look forward to reading more from you.

    1. Thank you! I am grateful for your time–I know that these quiet times are really precious for moms! So thank you for spending a little of it with me. šŸ™‚ I hope I can continue to write posts that are worthy of these precious moments.

    1. I know that well. I think that is one of the best parts about Dr. Angelou–her voice really was universal. It reached souls rather than skin. We can all miss her together. Thanks for saying hi, as usual. šŸ™‚

    1. I am so grateful that you stopped by and found something in my post. Thank you! I hope I can continue to write posts worthy of your time and that you’ll visit again soon!

    1. It is so true. We can only hope to aspire to touch what we was able to achieve. In the meantime, we can learn and reflect on the many thoughts that she left behind for us.

    1. Thank you for reading, Pamela! I don’t know what I really captured here outside of my own sorrow… but I’m glad that something resonated with you. I hope that you’ll stop by again soon!

    1. Thank you so much for reading my post. And I agree with you, she lives on in our hearts and in our actions. When we choose quiet, peace, wisdom and kindness, she lives in us. That’s such a powerful thing, you know?

  2. I’m glad I followed Britt’s link here.
    Maya was such a phenomenal presence in my life, and growing up she has left a significant impact by her words.

    RiP Maya, and thank you KC Wise for writing this beautiful piece.

    1. I’m really grateful to Britt for so many reasons. I hope that you’ll pop by her blog, too, because it’s so much better than mine! Thank you for stopping by and reading my post. Yesterday was a hard day, but I’m so happy to share in my memories with so many other women like you. I hope you’ll stop by again in the future.

  3. From Kenya, I equally feel the loss. Dr. Maya’s words and stories and verses saved a young boy in me from self hate and fear of the world. I love her and owe much of what and whom I have become to her. May her soul rest in peace.

    1. Thank you, Joyce! I wrote this right after I heard the news and was just feeling really raw at the time. I’m grateful that so many people have read it and found something in it.

  4. Dr. Maya Angelou definitely lives on in me. One of my earliest inspiration in helping me to find my voice in the written word, as well as spoken. But more importantly giving me the confidence to believe in and love me for the talent, the beauty and the grace I possess.

  5. K.C. this was beautiful. I truly enjoyed reading it. Sometimes we all just need to enjoy our moments, spend our days not focused on what to do or what’s going to keep us busy, but rather what will allow for our soul’s to touch other souls. Allow our happiness to grow even stronger just by the realization that we are living beautiful and profound lives. Your writing really captured me especially in the final paragraph. Thank you for taking the time out of your day to write that. šŸ™‚

  6. Congrats K.C. on getting Freshly Pressed for this beautiful post! I feel a tiny bit better now after reading such well writing material. You truly honored Dr. Angelou well. She would be proud.
    Sending many blessings your way.

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