It seems fitting that Serena Williams has just won the title for the best tennis player in the world. With hashtags trending such as #onamission and #breaktherules, she is burning a path for black women all over the world. She is making a space for us to trickle in, slowly at first but faster and more powerfully as minds bend and media changes.
I was lucky enough to have parents who introduced me to black women like Miriam Makeba, Tracy Chapman, Maya Angelou, Nina Simone and the many others who joined my life as I aged and began to search for them.
I now live in a world where I can look at women like Thuli Madonsela, Viola Davis, Serena Williams and those whose names I am still to learn. I can look to these women and know that I can be like them if I so choose.
My world is filling fast with women like Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Mamphela Ramphele, Mamela Nyamza, Thandiswa Mazwai and the young, up and coming poets, singers, theatre producers and politicians that will lead us into tomorrow.
I am fast beginning to truly believe that I can be anything that I set my mind to. I studied performance art because I love to move and sing and create. The Cape Academy of Performing Arts chose not to tell me that the world did not care about how much I loved to share and show and do. The world cares about how much money I have to show for what I do.
I have been struggling and battling with tears and a heart that beats less and less hard. All I have ever wanted to do is be with people, performing to them, with them, creating with and for them. My soul is only half alive when I am forced to conform to this capitalist, daily-grind lifestyle that was not designed for me and was never intended to benefit the likes of me.
So now I am studying Psychology in order to combine the two fields of study. The world will finally recognise me as important enough to listen to with a degree or PhD. I will force my way into society and then mould a home and community that truly suits me.
I do not have the money. I have never had the money, but here I am, with the help of strangers and the support of Indiegogo and generosoty.com. I have been able to tell my story and ask the world to help me, to fund me, to support me, to hold my trembling hands while I break the rules.
I refuse to fit into anyone’s mould but my own. I just can not. I deserve to live life happy, just like every other person on the planet. Many women don’t know that they can ask for what they want. Many black people would never dare.
People tell me that I am brave for asking for what I want and need. I am not brave, I am passionate and I have a strong faith and believe with my whole heart that what I want from the world and what I ask for, I can give back. Not in money but in power.
I will soon be able to begin volunteering at Trauma centres, woman’s homes, Rape crisis facilities and other organisations that might need my expertise. The world is helping me by paying for my education. I now can make the time to share what I have with women less able, eloquent, educated, supported.
I freelance as a performer, poet and speaker at youth events and high schools. I teach dance and perform in theatre festivals. This is where my heart glows. This is how I feed myself. The rest of the time, I ask for the world to pay for my studies. Asking for money is my full-time job.
Serena Williams did not become the best on her own, sees no shame in asking for funding, support and followers. Leaders do not get to the top alone. Every one of us needs support. I will bet nowhere being shy. I want to walk in the paths made by black female leaders. Support is all I am asking for.
Thank you world, thank you Generosity and thank you to the black women who came before me. Like Serena Williams and her trending hashtags, I too am #onamission and will be proud to #breaktherules.