Recently, I interviewed a group of twelfth grade students for an article on Black Excellence in Gateway’s quarterly newsletter, The Gate. I was completely blown away by the wisdom and maturity of the students. Somehow, they already understand such an important truth: our greatest power and impact comes from being our true selves.
Everyday Leadership was born from my belief that real social change requires the leadership and commitment of all of us – especially people who are not traditionally perceived as leaders. We are EACH leaders when we choose to step up into our unique and authentic power. My hope for Everyday Leadership is to embody positive leadership myself, inspire others to do the same, and shine a light on the leadership all around us. My students’ quotes about Black Excellence demonstrate exactly what that looks like!
What does Black Excellence mean to you?
To me, honestly, Black Excellence doesn’t have to be academic, or mean you’ve reached a certain form of “success.” It’s finding your way to being carefree as a Black person in America. There’s so much pressure on how you have to act, or what people expect of you — freeing yourself of that is Black Excellence.
Some people think Black Excellence is about being good academically. To me, Black Excellence means you are an excellent role model for the Black community. I try to show positivity, love, charisma and character. As well as I do in school, I try to do as well in my social life and in my community life. Black Excellence is knowing that under any condition you can do what’s right.
It’s not about being perfect or the best. It’s about trying, putting out consistent effort and defying stereotypes. When I was younger, my overall GPA wasn’t the best, but I chose not to limit myself. That’s Black Excellence. The thriving of Deejay.
Black Excellence means just showing up as myself. Everyone who identifies as Black is different, point blank period. I am unique as I am and no one is like me, so bringing up my ideas, my personality, my attitude is Black Excellence to me.
Black Excellence to me means Black people making a difference and working hard to be successful, despite the trials and tribulations we face.