Last weekend a friend of mine and I were scouring the aisles of a Barnes and Noble in San Antonio with no specific book in mind. I had been looking for a book to read in the teen section but came up empty-handed.
That's when I thought of Rick Riordan's "Trials of Apollo" which I knew could be found in the children's literature section. Going to that part of the store was the best thing I could have done because what I found was pure gold.
Sitting on the display shelves were 10 books showcasing the history of Black excellence. The shelves contained: Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, Rosa Parks, Hidden Figures, I am Harriet Tubman and so many more.
It was the first time I had ever seen children's books about prominent Black figures, real Black women that didn't involve kissing a frog.
Seeing those books made me delighted and sad at the same time because little Black girls can now aspire to be someone who looks like them but I didn't have the chance to do so when I was young.
I didn't find out it was okay to be a proud Black woman until recently. No more wishing I had a lighter skin tone, straighter hair or a slimmer body structure.
Now when teachers ask why this little Black girl wants to be an astronaut or why that little Black girl wants to be the President of the United States, they'll have an answer. There won't be an "I don't know" or referencing a white woman who they saw do it.
There's power in seeing people who look like you accomplish great things.
Before I was taught to be Black and proud, I was ashamed of my roots. I had grown up reading books that described my ancestors as nothing more than slaves.
Africa was nothing more than a desert where wild men and women needed to be tamed.
Little Black children should have been able to grow up with the confidence of what it truly means to be Black a long time ago.
To the Black children ashamed of who they are like I was, don't be afraid to:
"Dream Like Martin.
Lead like Harriet.
Fight like Malcolm.
Think like Garvey.
Write like Maya.
Build like Madam C.J.
Speak like Frederick.
Educate like W.E.B.
Believe like Thurgood.
Challenge like Rosa."