As each day passes in my 30s, I’m more grateful to be a woman of color enjoying this time of my life. I’m making so many wonderful discoveries about myself, some that are hard earned lessons and others that come with the grace of maturity. In this journey of grown woman-ness, I look for amazing women of color embarking on many of the same questions and challenges through art. Whether poets, actors, visual artists, photographers, filmmakers, social entrepreneurs and/or combinations of all of the above and beyond, these women run in their fields with wild and precise fire that inspires. They work their hearts, minds and bodies to be their best while uplifting their communities as mentors, mothers, daughters, sisters and for those with greater wisdom as grandmothers. Aren’t we amazing!?
A book that recently came into my life to provide this validation and inspiration is The Message: 100 Life Lessons from Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs by Felicia Pride. Pride (a powerful name!) writes in her introduction, “This is what I do. Adopt a hip-hop rhyme and claim it as a guiding life principle.” How many of us have done that?!
This book took me through Pride’s personal experiences with hip-hop as her life’s sound track that included songs that many of us share and lift our hands up in the air for on the dance floor. Not only could I hear the songs in my mind as I read but I got a personal perspective on how these rhymes spoke to her in specific moments of her life that I could relate to. I found myself laughing, shaking my head and taking deep breaths on all forms of public transportation in NYC reading this book. Not only did I feel validated but I felt empowered reading the words of a woman of color who loves herself, her passion for writing and hip-hop so much that she has made her dream of this book manifest to encompass them all. In the process she encourages readers, men and women, to do the same.
It’s powerful that someone who has adopted hip-hop rhymes as her guiding life principles, has passed down many of her own words of wisdom to her readers. Some of the valuable words/quotes I took away were:
“Swagger is provoking others to believe in you.”
“Things may get worse. Things may get better. But in between the ranges of our conditions, we remain our most powerful weapons.”
“We should be motivated to push harder for our voices to be heard with the understanding that some will never hear us. Despite this reality, we should know that we have something worthwhile to say. Something worth listening to. Ya heard?”
I heard these loud and clear and once I lifted my head from the book and looked at my next step of the day, whether getting to my job or rehearsal, I felt stronger along the way.
Many women in hip-hop have had to prove they are “tough enough” to create and legitimize their place in the male dominated culture. As Pride writes, “Tough enough to write a book about hip-hip. Tough enough to challenge hip-hop. But these blockades didn’t stop fearless femmes from kicking in the door and announcing their presence.” I’m happy to have been a part of this journey as a reader and supporter of Pride’s work and encourage all to do the same. Enjoy The Message.
For more information visit her website at: http://www.feliciapride.com/