I remember the first time I knew I was black - I was five years old and a group of kids in my kindergarten class were going to play Power Rangers. I called Pink Ranger and another little girl looked me in the face and said I couldn't be Pink Ranger, because Kimberly was white and I was black. The next year I couldn't go spend the night at my best friend's house, because her father didn't want a black person in his home. I had a complicated relationship with my blackness for years. I spent years not understanding or accepting my blackness because I wasn’t sure where it left me in the world.I wasn’t black enough to be black and I wasn’t white enough to be white. For years, I identified with white culture, and I wanted to fit in with whiteness - I was a baby goth and a complete nerd, things heavily identified with whiteness. I didn’t identify with black culture - I hated church, I didn’t like Tyler Perry movies, and I wasn’t into hip-hop music. However, Black culture is so much deeper than that, andthe media didn't/doesn't want people to know that. Unfortunately that superficial glance was all that was fed through the media for years and, that’s what people saw, that's what I saw. Blackness is bad. Blackness is sad slave movies. Blackness is ghetto and loud and harsh and less than. I thought I could not succeed and be the person I wanted to be and be black. No skinny ass emo goth boy would ever date me, love me, because of my blackness. I was always told that I was smart for a black girl, pretty for a black girl, talented for a black girl...and that clearly meant my intelligence, beauty, and talent would never measure up. But then I got older and I read books by Zora Neale Hurston and bell hooks. I took Sociology and Black Studies and Theater classes with professors who understood blackness. I listened to A Tribe Called Quest and watched films with Sidney Poitier, and really listened to, not just heard Billie Holiday and Nina Simone. I voted for Barack Obama. I began to de-colonize myself. I reclaimed my blackness. I am the great-grandaughter of a man who was born a slave and died the owner of the largest farm in Louisinana. I am the grandaughter of a man who only had an eighth grade education, the man who laid the blueprint that Century City Mall still sits in, the man who was awarded five metals in World War II. I am the grandaughter of one of the Rosie the Riveter's and COGIC royalty. I am the daughter of Acquanetta - top of her class in law scool, an ordained minister (who was ordained when women just didn't do that) and biblical scholar, mother to three brilliant successful children. I am black. We are in a golden age of black media - positive and deverse portrayals of black people abound. And when I walked out of the theater after seeing Black Panther the first time - my god, how I cried. I didn't just cry for me - I cried for the little girls who get to go to kindergarten this year and get to be Nakia, Okoye, or Shuri on the playground and no one gets to say a damned thing to them about who they can be and what they can do. Wakanda Forever!