By Madalyn McKnight
All my life I have gotten applauded for my accomplishments. Every benchmark and triumph is a black benchmark and triumph and I do take pride in that. But lately, I have been questioning whether black excellence is actually an attainable standard, and why this label always attaches itself to something seemingly grand and great. What is black excellence? Sure, the recent miracle that occurred at esteemed HBCU Morehouse’s Spring graduation is excellent. But so is a single mother pursuing her dreams all while attending the to the needs of her family.
Yes, I am working on my second graduate degree, but I am still stressed about my next step, naturally, because I am conditioned to wonder what’s next in an effort to keep the label I have been given. That comes with pressure and a lot of anxiety. Being told I am excellent is overrated; feeling excellent is what matters. I would rather not appear to have everything together in the eyes of everyone else, but to feel excellent in my own right. I would rather feel that my education and experiences have culminated and manifested in a manner that fulfills my soul. I do not want to be a ticking time bomb with the expectations of others fueling my demise.
That is my definition of excellence and it should be the same for those black individuals feeling pressured to carry the dreams of the ancestors. It should not be at the cost of your mental health. In the spirit of the aptly titled Prince song, Sometimes It Snows April, sometimes certain seasons last longer than others. I am learning to be more content in every stage and basking in the beauty of where God has me in this very moment, today, while I am creating this post. That is my excellence. Even if things do not work out as naturally and beautifully as I dream, things are working out, above ground and not below. And that is excellent.
Corporate America, Artist, Hustler, Entrepreneur, Student, Parent, Survivor. You are black, therefore, YOU are excellent. And it all the boils down to that.
Madalyn McKnight is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. A rare blackbird who has the range and a young black professional with impactful words! Follow her on Instagram and Facebook at @singsongblackbird and twitter @singsongblckbrd