January 11, 2018
We’ve all seen, heard or said the quote, “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.” From villages, plantations, coal mines and gold mines, we can look at our generation and feel as though we’ve come a long way. Black excellence is around every corner from music and film to law and medicine to reclaiming the power of creativity and entrepreneurship. We are the generation handed a tarnished economy, high student loan debt, fewer chances of home ownership anytime soon, but we’re out here. We’re out here still knocking down doors, stimulating the economy with innovation and boldly using that innovation to create the futures that we desire.
As dope as we are, I’m going to have to Kayne West us real quick because I truly believe that our ancestors are the GOATs. They created companies, communities, governments, moral codes, medical solutions, technological inventions all without the education, technology and resources that we’ve been privileged to receive. They did so not just in absence of these privileges, but while actively under attack trying to end colonialism, fighting for basic civil rights and having to prove a humanity worth the privileges we benefit from today. They risked their lives to create change so that we could exist and thrive as we do today, even as the fight continues.
I only have to go one generation back to think about my aunt, Ama Ata Aidoo, an early African feminist writer, the Chimamanda before Chimamanda, as she also doubled as Ghana’s Minister of Education. Another generation back and I can channel the liberation spirit of my dad’s dad who fought for Ghana’s independence and my mom’s dad, the chief who created a business that served as the anchor of Ghana’s economy as it fought its way to stability post-liberation. Not to mention my grandmothers who raised eight kids yet still managed to serve as pillars in their communities whether through the church, fashion or dance and music.
In the early-mid 1900’s: Madame CJ Walker went from washwoman to millionaire. Thurgood Marshall won more than 28 Supreme Court cases and rose to become the first African American Supreme Court Justice all while advocating on our behalf. Garret Morgan went from handyman to inventor of the traffic light, the respiratory machine that became the blueprint for gas masks used in WWI and more. Those. Are. Just. Three. Random. Examples. We all know the list goes on and reaches much further back. Many of our grandparents didn’t even have college as a viable option, furthermore study Af-Am, politics or business, yet with or without that they legislated, invented and improved society. Meanwhile we’ve been indoctrinated into a society where we are told we have to have advanced degrees in all the above and 10 years of experience before we are entrusted with an account to manage. *side eyes the system*
Our ancestors are proof that we are capable of far more than we use today’s formal education restrictions and standards to limit ourselves to. They are proof that talent and dedication can go far, that there is not one measure of intelligence or capability. In my wildest dreams, I am as resourceful and resilient as they were. In my wildest dreams, I have the foresight to create a legacy that will benefit more than just my offspring. In my wildest dreams, all of our ancestors are looking down, proud of the mantle that is being carried by our generation in all walks of life. And in my wildest dreams, their legacies of pride, culture, intelligence, tenacity and victory continue on through and beyond us because they have provided the substance for all of the dreams that we have ever dared to dream and fueled our ability to see them through to reality.
Naa-Shorme | Write to Live