The tears kept rolling like rivers down my face. I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t want to stop crying. Her words were like a salve on my soul. An “I see you, Sis” from 3,000 miles away. I don’t know her. Not sure if I’ll ever meet her. But that brilliant, richly dark woman, with her glorious crown of natural hair, shined brighter than any star on my screen in that moment.
“In my mind, I see a line. And over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line. But I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line …
That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s. And let me tell you something: The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So, here’s to all the writers, the awesome people that are Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes. People who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading woman, to be black. And to the Taraji P. Hensons and Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharies, the Meagan Goodes, to Gabrielle Union. Thank you for taking us over that line. Thank you for the Television Academy. Thank you.”
I recognize now that much more than Viola Davis’s words of truth and empowerment were rumbling in my heart as I watched the Emmy Awards on Sunday evening. It was a second vision that overwhelmed me. Another woman. Golden-brown skin. Full lips trembling with emotion. Her own tears flowing freely. And then another. This woman, only slightly browner than the second. Straight hair lightly grazing her collarbone. Clapping wildly and in unabashed celebration for yet another—a cocoa-colored woman called on to hold up the ever elusive golden statue. This beautifully wild one? Her yelps of joy sliced the pretentious air in a room full of her … their … alleged peers.