From the day I knew the woman existed, I thought of Viola Davis as my goddess – the tone of her voice, her presence, and the fact that her skin color matched mine. While I am not comparing Viola to Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit, she was the image in which I thought my God (or Goddess) should look like. She was the closet person that looked like me on television. It was the one of the first times I saw a dark skinned woman on a cable show that was not a cartoon, a quirky best friend, or the brunt of the negative stereotypes. She was just there, in all of her glory, telling me that I can be glorious too.
Fast forward to my adulthood and I still live my life in a “What Would Viola Do” (WWVD) kind of way. I am more secure in my dark skin tone and curly hair than ever and I can attribute that to Sista Viola and the other strong representations of Black women on TV and in real life. So when she gave her acceptance speech on Sunday for her historical Emmy, she reminded me to keep fighting for my worth and to continue to use my platform to encourage other little girls to be resilient. I don’t consider Viola as my savior in Christ but more as one of my saviors in life as the elementary and teenage Lexi always struggled with self love and confidence. I was always very good at faking my confidence in front of an audience. But behind the scenes, I was just another dark skinned girl who yearned for her natural beauty, intellect, and passions to be seen as worthy.
One of the most difficult things about being a woman of color is the constant fight that you must have in order to receive a handful of accolades throughout your life. Some mornings I wake up rejuvenated with my boxing gloves laced. Other days, I peel out of bed asking God why the struggle is sometimes too intense. With my battle scars still healing, I throw on a pair of jeans and try to re-energize my self during the ride to meetings. But when Viola recited another dark skinned Goddess, Harriet Tubman, during her acceptance speech, I was reignited for the rest of the year.
I think of Viola Davis as a goddess because her existence along saved me from myself. Knowing that there is a woman who is not shy about the tough conversations and doesn’t care about being “too black” in her profession has strengthened my values as an entrepreneur, creative, and 20 something woman in this society. I will no longer hide my full self in fear of judgement in professional settings because if my work (and words) speak for themselves then I will not need the validation of others to feel “successful”. There are no more reservations about my purpose.
There are not enough thank you cards, joyful tears, and hugs that I could ever give to Viola, Harriet, and the other strong dark skinned women who helped me get to this point in my life. I can only hope that one day my image will pull another dark skinned girl from her emotional trauma and push her to say “Why not? Why can’t I be everything Lexi wants me to be?”
Regardless of what Gods or Goddesses you spiritually follow, you need to become your own savior. But in order to find that kind of inner peace, you also need to find strength in the people, familiar or famous, that make you want to be a better you. Sista Viola – the fight will continue. Thank you for making it worth it and thank you for breaking down doors so we can have opportunities.