I didn’t watch the BET awards.
I can’t tell the last award show I’ve watched from beginning to end-however-I’m a highlight watcher. As a lover of all things pop culture-it doesn’t take much to keep abreast with pop culture through the use of Twitter and other social media platforms. Everyone was talking about Tyler Perry’s speech as he accepted an icon award.
A quick YouTube search delivered the whole speech. He stated, “I don’t want to be an icon, I want to be an inspiration”. His speech was poignant and timely as he discussed his life’s purpose and the women in his life whom served as an inspiration to his work. He used the metaphor of wanting to help others “cross”. Cross through barriers, challenges and the overall difficulties of life. He made clear, “While others lamented on not having a seat at the table (Hollywood) he was building his own table in Atlanta”. He made a conscious effort to carry other artists along for the ride. He mentioned hiring dynamic actors such as Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba, whom struggled with getting work as a paid actors.
This concept of helping others “cross” is not foreign to me. I have “crossed” many obstacles in my own life and often not on my own and exclusive to those in my immediate family.
As a person of color, my many life achievements did not happen in isolation.
They happened with assistance of those beyond my immediate family. I am in no way downplaying my family’s contribution, however, like most people from a supportive family-family members often rock with you. They cheer you along and push you to be great because you are their family.
I am speaking specifically of those adults around me whom took the time to encourage me often in areas I didn’t even envision for myself. I’ve had mentors whom have guided me in applying for study abroad programs while in college, mentors whom read and edited college essays, scholarship essays, whom helped me secure part time employment as I pursued graduate studies, and those whom mailed me articles from The New Yorker, while I was attending Hampton University-articles written by or about the lives of people of color. Articles that reminded my of my purpose as college life became tricky to navigate. These mentors, some still living, others whom have passed on are constant reminders of how pertinent this concept of helping others cross means.
Tyler’s speech highlighted the concept of people of color helping each other beyond the duties of immediate family. He discusses how our success and survival are contingent on the concept of people of color reaching back and helping others “cross” even when there is no blood relation. The commitment to self must transcend past immediate family. In order for one to be good, others must be as well. Tyler was right, others lives are intertwined with dreams pursued.
We can not get sidetracked by “isms”. Gender, sexuality, socio-economic background and even education should not deter us from working together as one. We must push past the labels we find ourselves in as we move within a framework that really was never designed for our survival, much less our success. Let us continue to pursue dreams even when obstacles often make it more challenging. The state of double consciousness makes it more challenging to pursue our dreams and even more so when we are helping others “cross” as we ourselves need help “crossing”, however, do not be deterred. If you are reading this, know you can do it! With grace and humility, not only will you make it you may surprise yourself with whom you help “cross” along the way. Blessings.