Here on melaninatedandeducated, I believe that it is important to highlight unsung heroes in our community that don’t always get the recognition they deserve. They don’t clamor for recognition nor do they feel they deserve it. To them, they furthering their ancestors’ dreams and they just want to make a difference. These are the people that work with the next generation of leaders in our communities, our students, our teachers, a family member, and everything in between. These are the stories that need to be heard as counter narratives to mainstream media. Today, I want to highlight a close brother and role model, Courtney Williams. He is someone who continues to play a vital role in both my professional and personal life without asking for anything but success. If you know people that should be highlighted in #melaninatedexcellence, let us know!
WHAT DOES BLACKNESS MEAN TO ME IN 2017?
I visited a slave plantation today. I’ve been to one before but this time I could hardly contain my feelings. I felt outraged, saddened, and hopeless all at once. But from my pain, I found strength: strength which flows to me from the blood, sweat, and tears of the many who bore the burden before me. And in that moment, I was reminded of how proud I am of my blackness.
What a wonderful time to talk about blackness. Well, let’s be honest, it’s always good to talk about blackness! After all, it is Black History Month. We are living in an era of #blackboyjoy and #blackgirlmagic, an age in which primetime TV has television shows featuring predominately African American casts, and black men and women who are exceling in all aspects of life! What a time to be alive! What a time to be black!
We are also living in a country where black and brown people cannot gain equitable access to resources. A world where our Muslim brothers and sisters are being persecuted and banned from entering our beloved community, which was built by individuals snatched from their own homelands and enslaved.
So, with all of this going on…it’s hard to give one phrase that describes what my blackness means to me. My blackness means so much…it’s hard to put into words:
My blackness is Bold
I am a proud BLACK man, happy in my own skin. I’m not afraid to take risks and think outside the box. I love learning new things, and challenging myself to grow, learn, and lead the future movers and shakers of our world.
My blackness is PROUD
I love to say it loud – I’m black and I’m proud! Every day I’m in awe of the amazing things I see black people doing. I am constantly amazed by the strength and love within our community.
My blackness is Powerful
I know that I am powerful beyond measure. I gain my strength from those around me. Even when faced with adversity, fear, pain, and struggle, I am STRONG. I am powerful.
My blackness is Enlightened.
Being an educated black man means the world to me. I remember reading I’m Determined to be Somebody Someday during my childhood. This amazing poem by Herbert Brewster (a Memphian, 901 represent!) still inspires me to this day. One of my favorite lines states:
I haven’t much to boast of – just a little faith and grit
In spite of the things that stand in my way
I’m determined to be somebody someday
My blackness is Resistant, Resilient and sometimes a lil bit Ratchet
Don’t try to put me in a box. I’m multifaceted, multidimensional, and ever-evolving with each day. I don’t take no for an answer. I am the wildest dream of my ancestors.
My blackness is Loved, Liberated, and Loyal.
I stand up for what is right, love hard, and always remember those who have blessed me along my journey. For without them, where would I be today? Because best believe, I’m here to stay. Say it loud, I’m black and I’m proud!
Let us march on, til victory is won.
Who is Courtney Williams?
Courtney Williams is a passionate and driven individual who enjoys coaching young people effectively and efficiently achieve their goals! Courtney is a vibrant student affairs professional with a passion for cultivating students and their talents through mentorship and empowering them with leadership skills. Courtney received a M.Ed. in Community Development and Action with an emphasis on service-learning and leadership development from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development, and is currently pursuing his EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership at University Southern California’s Rossier School of Education.
Courtney’s research interests include: exploring the intersection of higher education and community development, examining the factors which influence persistence for young professionals of color at PWIs, and discovering the impact of positive psychology on leadership development.
In his free time, Courtney enjoys speaking French, listening to music, and being a Beyonce enthusiast and faithful member of the Beygency!