Black History Month reminds us to take a beat, acknowledge those who have laid a solid foundation for the betterment of our lives, and then move toward progressive change — taking with us all that we have learned, while continuing to fight those seemingly elusive battles.
As a black female business owner and first-time technology company founder, I am aware that my story is one of success, the American dream writ large. But the story is not mine alone, because without the acknowledgement of powerful feminine energy surrounding me from a young age, I would likely not have arrived at this place.
Every bit of my strength begins with my grandmother. Her father was the son of freed Mississippi slaves, her mother a Native American from Oklahoma. She was born at the beginning of a new, Black American generation: one which was physically free, with the emotional shadow of slavery lurking at every turn. Deeply rooted in faith, I distinctly remember her walking around her house singing hymns while she conducted chores and cooked her famous gumbo. I’d catch her saying prayers regularly, and reading was her favorite pastime. Her existence was simple, but she was fully free to do what she pleased — her grace, joy, gratitude, and courage apparent in every move.
She used to say to me: “You have to fight as hard as you possibly can, for as long as you can; and when you are done, walk away…but only with no regrets.”
Her words, chosen carefully and always at the right time, remain in my soul.
She also taught me how to cook. At seven years old, while I stirred the base to her gumbo, she would talk to me about the power of food:
“Cooking isn’t for women, it’s for the powerful,” she’d say. “It does two things: it nourishes and it loves. This power should be wielded carefully.”
When I am tired, lonely, and want to give up, her memory gives me resilience. How can I offer anything less to the world than pure strength, when I know this is my birthright. I can fully throw myself into my work, my family, my community, my future — but only with no regrets.