I know…I know. Black History Month is already short enough. There’s a full week left for us to focus on the African ancestral energy that has brought us a mighty long way. But I’m a bit of a rebel, so I decided to get a jump on Women’s History Month by taking a moment to celebrate the generations of fiesty babes who brought me up and raised me in the way that I should go.

I am very aware that feisty is often associated with the idea that you are more than a little crazy. From Dictionary.com: feisty is defined as “full of animation, energy, or courage; spirited; spunky; plucky: The champion is faced with a feisty challenger.” Implying something about the overall aura of the challenger, but also a subtle nod to the notion that it may be crazy to posit a challenge, period. Take my mother, a kindergarten teacher who worked every day of her pregnancy until her OB/GYN forced her off her feet. Who finished an M.A. in Psychology when I was still in diapers, an M.Ed. by the time I reached 3rd grade, and was working on her Ph.D. by the time she died a few years later from metastatic breast cancer she’d been fighting the entire time. Crazy, right? Her aunts wore pantsuits to church, ignoring any whispers about “mannish” behaviors or appropriate attire, sang in the choir, drank, cussed and brought me to side-splitting laughter with regularity. Without their sister present to grandmother me, they all stepped up to fill the role. Praising my intelligence, criticizing my weight lovingly, wanting me to be as fabulous as I dared.

**cue the SchoolHouse Rock interlude**

I had the distinct pleasure of being a cast member for a staging of SchoolHouse Rock Live here in Philly back in 1996, spending many nights and weekends on stage singing these amazing educational jingles and dancing on a jungle gym-styled set for about 3 months. I refused to believe that I couldn’t have the stability of a full-time income and pursue my love for all things dramatic and musical at the same time. Sleep, be damned! Date the only other brown person in the cast, and social life solved! And as for my star moments in the show, I got to solo some of my absolute favorites from the series: “Interjections,” “Mother Necessity,” and the lesser-known piece featured above, “Suffrin’ Til Suffrage.” Which, of course, is my most beloved song of all…just edging out “Verb, That’s What’s Happenin” because of its message of female empowerment. Back at the turn of the 20th Century, there were no pressures to be airbrushed perfect in photos while you embraced a feminist goal, thank goodness. But you were certainly relegated to a crazy chick sisterhood that acknowledged your feistiness as a rite of passage to be the change you wanted to see in the world.

So, my sisters of all ethnicities, ages and economic stripes, may you be encouraged to stand firm in the fullness of yourselves this week. Let no unretouched photos of Beyonce or Academy Award red carpets turn you away from the realness of you in this moment. Pimples, scars, 40 extra pounds ain’t got nothing on you! Be feisty for all the right reasons. Know that the world needs your presence, your voice, your spirit, your guidance and shine like the star you are.


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