#PowertoTheSistahs @SaintBoz: Why it is Crucial for Black Women to Hear this Acceptance Speech Before the End of 2016

10:00 AM

By now many of us have heard of Apple Marketing Executive Bozoma Saint John. If you have not take some time to familiarize yourself with her here, and here, and also here.

Two weeks ago the video of her acceptance speech for the Billboard Women in Music 2016 Executive of the Year Award surfaced with nothing but love and adoration for all things sistah gurl. I found out about the speech when my best friend posted it proclaiming its power to make you hit the ugly cry, and it sure did. So after watching it several times in a row I knew I had to write a post about it.

The reason I personally feel that this speech in particular is necessary, just plain crucial, for Black women to hear before the clock strikes midnight on 2017, is because there was just something about 2016 that is leaving many of us in need of healing, restoration, and a lot of renewed strength. There is a restorative power to this speech, there are necessary charges in this speech, we are seen in this speech, and our language is spoken in this speech. Saint John gives us a seat at her table in this speech, matter of fact after this speech listen to Solange Knowle's "Dont Touch My Hair" and then "F.U.B.U." just get all the way into it. (I am actually listening to album as I write this). So before you close out this hell of a year give your soul some R and R (and R and R...)

Restore - Your Spiritual Practice
"I would like to give thanks to the Most High"
Bozoma is not shy about her love for Christ as she thanks Jesus openly mentioning how she caught the Holy Ghost when she found out she won the award. No matter your personal beliefs, (and it appears that Black women have been exploring their options), having a spiritual practice that centers you when life is uncertain, trying, and just down right uncooperative is imperative. Before the year ends centering with your higher power and locating your inner peace can help keep your journey smooth when you hit the potholes of life.

Resound - Your Voice
"The S-I-S-T-A-H" 
From this year's presidential election, to the #SayHerName movement, we know that our voices matter. And if you don't know, know it now. Every time Bozoma said "Boo" my pride grew just a little more. When she spoke to her mother in her native language of Fante because in her words "...since our mother tongue, Fante, isn't often spoken on stages like this..." I lost it. The tears could not have been stopped under any circumstance. Listening to her speech the feeling of a big sister talking to her girls as we sit by the door and listen in only for her to invite you in on the conversation is exactly what I felt with the language that she used here. Never did she replace a slang word with a corporately appropriate word, never once did she apologized but proclaimed that this speech was for the sistahs "with an 'H'" She new that not only did her voice matter but it needed to matter in its own identity, in its true and native form. Black women your voice is beautiful and your words necessary.

Rally - Realize and Refine Your Tribe
"You are always home base for me" 
There is something about a tribe, the small group of women (people) that no matter where you are in the world they are as Saint John put it, "home base." The power of sisterhood is evident in her speech when she speaks gratitude to "the sistahs who chose [her]" and how they "spoon-fed [her] back to life on the strength of their love" after her husband died. This resonates with me so strongly as I am the gypsy of my friends yet there is a group of women who reside in Columbus, OH that I will forever call my Foundation, and when my father died in 2012 my sistahs in Los Angeles took turns sleeping at my place to ensure I wasn't alone during those first few nights of returning from Cleveland. I breathe their love and no matter where I am in the world, knowing that I have them matters more than anything to me. Before 2017 review and reevaluate your friendships, where does it need to be refreshed or even revisited; as my best friend puts is "protect your energy." Prune where necessary, and realize where you too can improve as a friend and support system.

Recognize - Coach and Champion Instead of Complain
"I see you Boo! Okay!"
There was this smooth rant Bozoma when on that was just straight recognition for "the sistahs that aren't seen, that push themselves day in and day out..." When she said "I see you Boo!" I felt as if she was talking to me directly, like she knew all about that one Wednesday two weeks ago when...you know? The restorative power of recognition among your peers where your soul also has rest is both underrated and undervalued. Often the media has tried to portray Black women as catty and combative and not as collaborative, but this portion of the speech disproves this notion. I personally am trying my best to do better about coaching and championing rather than complaining. I have made my own proclamation that if it is important enough for me to vent about it to multiple people, but have yet to speak to the originator of agitation then I am now the problem. I have gotten much better over time, but it still something I have to be fully conscious about. Not everyone will receive constructive criticism or kind correction, but it is much more productive to coach and champion than to complain. So before 2017 try to take these next few days to recognize where you can hand out more "I see you Boo!" It's the Black woman's high five.

Reach - Teach Them Well and Let Them Lead the Way
"We are knocking these dudes out of the way to make room for you"
If nothing else in her speech made you cry Bozoma's promise to the younger generation, and her words to her daughter and goddaughter should have done the trick. Charging them to "walk [their] walk, walk boldly, walk in [their] truth and not even [hers]" to "use [their] big girl voice" Young Black girls have to be woke in a way that we have only heard of our parents tales of the Civil Rights Movement. I remember when this video of 9 year-old Zianna Oliphant speaking at the Charlotte, NC City Council meeting circulated and the comments on the post were that she was prepped, that someone fed her the words, and that there was no way that those could be the words of a child her age, and it just made me think of how much our children are discounted. Our Black girls need to see examples of walking in one's truth, speaking out and using their voice, and know that it is okay to do the same. There are 4 young ladies in my life that are the silent checks and balance system to ensure that the things I do, I do with intention. And since it's my blog I am going to take a moment to speak words of honor to them.
  • Goddaughter - I honestly believe that you were born early because the world couldn't wait to have you in it. Your creativity and knack for video editing is going to have great value for the way that our stories are heard and told. I am so excited to watch you grow and embrace every changing circumstance that the world throws at you with such a mature demeanor. You embrace life as if it were an opportunity to make something beautiful, and it inspires me to change my perspective when I lean toward the negative. 
  • Twin - You are pure in heart. Artistic is an understatement as you have made art your science. Your love for the Lord keeps your outlook on life so bright, and you clearly cause light wherever you go. This is your superpower. People love you and instinctively want to protect you, yet you are the strongest warrior of them all. You will use your art as your sword, and oh the battles you will win. 
  • Muse - Carefree Black Girl, you are a founding member. Watching you come into your own, fashion your style in a way that inspires me on a daily, street and book smart, you are the epitome of "cool." Your voice is going to change a generation, you are a natural leader, and we don't have to worry about knocking down the dudes to make room for you because you do that all on your own. Haters part like the Red Sea in your presence, your confidence your staff, and us your support system will always be there to hold up your arms when they tire. Already a mentor to many, your leadership will inspire multitudes. May I forever remain a part of your fan club. 
  • Favorite - My favorite girl. You will literally be that until you're like 50. We are such kindred spirits. You are that kind whose friendship has the ability to spoon feed someone back to life when they need it; you have so much love to give. Smart and disciplined, this will take you farther than many in your circle. Embrace it! You will soon come across others who have a high-capacity to achieve in the same way you do. You are wise about how you use your voice already, when you choose to speak it means something, and people want to hear it. You are headed directly to the exceedingly, abundantly, above, and beyond, and when you get there that capacity to love, discipline to complete the hard tasks, and voice that speaks the necessary will be crucial. You got this! 
Speak life into a young woman in your life today. In the meantime get your life with the video below. Cry, take notes, journal your thoughts and feelings, purge a bit before the new year, and Restore, Resound, Rally, and Reach.

Happy 2017!
Billboard Women in Music 2016 Executive of the Year Acceptance Speech (Bozoma Saint John) from Bozoma Saint John on Vimeo.

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