I had the chance to visit the DMV area for my really good friend’s wedding. His wedding was held right across the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C., on the same day President Obama inaugurated the museum. Three days after the inauguration, I got the privilege to visit. To say I was blessed would be an understatement.
My visit to the museum was indeed an experience. The museum is 400,000 square-foot and sits on the National mall. It also has more than 36,000 artifacts occupying four floors and painstakingly chronicles the history of Blacks in America starting from the Slave trade to present day America.
Ideally, when you visit the museum, you should start from the first floor and work your way up to the fourth floor. The fourth floor focuses on the musical contributions of Black America from Funk to Hip-hop, among other musical genres. You should each plan to visit and plan to spend a full day to begin learning the critical history that is never taught in schools. It really is very detailed and comprehensive and everyone, regardless of what continent you reside, should experience it.
Folks, while there and after I left the museum, what kept resonating in my mind was the the issue and topic of identity. The words that ultimately strung together in my head was a need to reaffirm for me; and to share with you all that “you are enough.”
I believe from the day we are born to the day we die, we will always have persons and society tell us we are not enough. I also believe that we internalize these negative statements and actions and many times, believe and live our lives like we are in fact not enough. Sometimes the statements and actions towards us of not being enough are made deliberately to hurt us. Other times, especially from family and friends, they are made to allegedly protect us or based on the limitations that those who love us have set for themselves in their lives. However, what’s critical to know, through it all, is that YOU ARE ENOUGH.
In reviewing the experiences of my ancestors while at the museum, they were consistently and constantly told they were not enough. They were not enough in their own land, primarily Nigeria and Ghana where millions hailed from. They certainly were not enough in the land of their slave masters. They were just never enough and everything wickedly possible was done to break them, and break their spirits. Some were in fact broken. But, there were many who understood they were enough. They also understood that they couldn’t let their identity of who they were be determined by trauma, or by the evil wrongdoing of their own people who betrayed them and sold them into slavery. They understood they couldn’t let their identities be defined by slave masters who raped their minds, bodies and attempted to rape their souls. They understood their identities were rooted in a divine power greater than them, and their motherland. Indeed, they remembered their languages, cultures, families, friends etc.
Indeed, I can’t even begin to understand where they found the strength to stay resilient and to fight until they attained their freedom. I can’t even begin to understand where they found the strength to keep keeping on. However, I do know that they rejected, through it all, individually and collectively, the idea that they were “not enough.” They knew they were enough and as a result, fought to allow a person like me, you, and many others freely exist in America.
Let me wrap this up by bringing this home to your personal lives right now, in this moment and in this time.
I want you to know that just like our ancestors knew they were enough, YOU ARE ENOUGH. What does that mean? It means you must roll your sleeves and do the necessary work so you validate for yourself that you are enough. To me, this means you must ensure your identity is not rooted in people, things, or places. Forget all you have heard. The real truth is your identity cannot be rooted in your career, your talents no matter how extraordinary they may be, relationships, or any traumatic event you have been through. Your identity must be solidly placed in who you know yourself to be independent of what anyone says, and, I believe, in a divine power greater than you.
When you know that you are enough and have a strong identity that is not anchored in the wrong things, trauma or people, the modern shackles that will present themselves in your life cannot hold you down. You may be placed in cabins or auction blocks like our ancestors were, or go through other mental, physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual adversity but it will not break you because you are enough.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.