As I was getting ready for this interview, I kept going over and over in my head what would be appropriate for me to say. I'm a pastor's wife and a public-relations professional. There's a certain expectation. Maybe I can talk about going to Africa for the first time; maybe I can talk about spending all this time on Ancestry.com and discovering things about my lost ancestors. Maybe it's going to Barack Obama's inauguration twice. Or maybe it's something simple like cooking my first Thanksgiving dinner, with my mom on the phone coaching me all the way.
You know what? All those things are great. But I was just walking down the street last week and I was on my way to work, I'd just flown in from Ohio from a funeral and I was a little flustered. I had to catch a 6 a.m. flight, so I'm focused. I have my suitcase, and had just got off the SEPTA train. I'm trying to get to work at a quarter of 9, and I'm pressing through rush-hour traffic of people walking down the street.
Then, out of the blue, this brother standing there was like, "Damn, girl, you are fine as s-."
I fell out laughing. It was offensive, yet uplifting at the same time. I had all these emotions going. It was just like, 'Oh my God, that was a real-life black joy moment. Only an African American man can compliment a black woman like that and you know that he means it.'
I wasn't feeling my best. I was tired, I'd been up the night before late and up early for a flight. My hair was a mess and my clothes were just thrown together. But for him to say that, I was just like, wow. I was embarrassed, but also thinking, who, me? I'm fine?
It's really something when we are kind to one another. He didn't want anything, obviously it didn't go any further. I said: "Thank you. My husband tells me that all the time." But there is something about it, it's like when sisters on elevators say, "Oh, my God, your hair looks nice," or "Your outfit looks really nice," or they comment on Facebook posts, writing " You go, girl! Black girl magic!" If we are kind to one another, that brings black joy. The Bible says love one another, and that's all we need to do. It's very simple: We spread love by speaking love and speaking kindness to one another, and that is black joy.
All it takes is a little simple compliment or smile from a stranger. It's affirming and uplifting.
We need to hear that from each other; this community is stronger together. We affirm one another, we believe one another and encourage one another. Sometimes just the smallest gesture, a "hello" or "you look nice today," can go a long way in making a difference in someone's day, and it has a chain reaction. It causes smiles and laughter; that man's comment completely changed my outlook. As tired as I was, I still had to laugh at this gentleman who met me getting off the train with something so inappropriate.
It put things in perspective. As haggard as I felt I looked, someone had just told me that I looked good. It was self-affirming for him to have said that. Maybe I just walked a bit peppier; I don't know. It took some of the stress from the funeral and the exhaustion away, if only for a moment.