My word for 2019

My word of the year dawned on me when I finally noticed the connection with a series of events  that happened to 4 Black females who are in the public eye and had a stellar 2018. They all had something in common. To those who read my posts, you won’t be surprised by the first two: Michelle Obama and Meghan Markle. It’s the other two that are somewhat surprising: Tayari Jones and Kennedy Holmes.


Me with Tayari in my classroom.

New York Times Bestseller and Spelman Alumna Tayari Jones visited my 20th century Black women writers class. More than anything she said, what left the biggest impact on me was how she carried herself. She believed in herself. She wasn’t apologizing about who she was, hiding who she was or what she had done. It was of no consequence to her if you were a fan or not. She had done her part to make her offering to the world and that was enough for her.


I noticed all of this, but it didn’t make an impact on me until I saw Kennedy Holmes in her final performance on the television show “The Voice.” I’m not a regular viewer of the show but I had known about her. She covered the Demi Lovato song “What’s Wrong with Being Confident?” And wow what a gutsy performance. Everything I noticed about Michelle Obama, Meghan Markle and Tayari Jones was present in the person of this 14 year old wonder.


The victory, for her, was being in the finals. It didn’t matter what the results were. She had put her best out there and that was the victory. She believed.


In much of 2018 and before, I lived in fear.  I was sporadic in my writing. I had loved ones who were ill. People who were supposed to love me spoke cruel words to me and I felt pained from what were intentional slights. I noticed silences on social media about my work and that also hurt. My father moved out of my childhood home, a place that had been my refuge for more than 3 decades.  For so much of the year, I felt beaten down. Then, one day, after I fought through the haze of anger that I felt at Holmes’s loss, I finally understood what these amazing people had taught me.


  • Believe in yourself.
  • Stop apologizing or hiding who you are. (Ya’ll know this one is hard for me)
  • It doesn’t matter if people are fans or not.
  • Make your best offering to the world and that is enough.
That’s the victory.

I felt a weight lift from me. Putting so much energy into CARING  was what kept me beaten down.  No longer.  I’m free.


Now, in 2019, I’m ready to affirm this new understanding in a word: confident. I appreciate your indulgence in my long post, but with this new knowledge and my new word, I am ready and excited and confident about what is to come.

Happy New Year!

11 thoughts on “My word for 2019

  1. I love love love this post and your ability to move through a painful year and embrace your brilliance and your best self. I am with you every step of the way, cheering you on.

  2. Thank you for putting it out there and sharing this. So many feels. I may rethink my own word for 2019… lots to think about. Look at what you started! And thanks for that.

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