Originally published on April 21, 2020

I think motherhood is growing on me. It’s hard to label such a love and pain.

Growing up without a mother left me to create my own blueprint for how to best teach and raise my daughter. But I’d argue, does any parent really know what they’re doing?

Maya Angelou.

Whoopi Goldberg.

Oprah Winfrey.

Angela Bassett.

Phylicia Rashad.

These women were and are my mothers. I would watch them on television and in movies and tell myself that these were the women I wanted to be. These graceful queens were all I needed to get through life.

Whenever I need wisdom, I rest on the poetic words of Maya Angelou — she is the reason I became a poet. Her voice grounds my spirit and reminds me who I am. Whenever I need to be uplifted, Whoopi Goldberg is there to turn my tears of pain into tears of joy. When I need to feel human or when I feel disconnected from the world around me, I am motivated by Oprah and reminded that there is a true oneness in life — a oneness that lets me know everything is connected and if I sit with myself long enough, I’d understand this fully. She taught me to question and to be curious. Angela Bassett — the truest queen. I rest easy in this woman’s strength. At first, it was based on the incredible women she portrayed but as I grew older, I watched her beyond the screen and learned the true meaning of the words grace, strength, elegance, courage, — QUEEN.

Phylicia Rashad.

Everyone’s mom. But to me — more. When I watched the Huxtables, I didn’t see a doctor or lawyer or middle class family. I didn’t think about the cultural impact they were making. If I acknowledged that, it would have ruined my image of normal, my definition of hope. It would have ruined the thought that a mother’s love was attainable.

I simply saw what I was longing for. I saw what I knew could be real. I saw myself and then, I latched on to Phylicia Rashad. I latched on to her wit, her style, her grace, her confidence, her power, her might, her joy, and her pain. I’d watch her interviews and learned her manner “off-screen”. She taught me how to be woman — human.

As a child, I always thought she resembled my mother. There was something about the soft but sure tone in her velvet voice, her facial expressions, her hair, her poise, and her presence that captivated my entire world.

As a singer, I am moved by voice. I connect to the timbre, tone, inflections, and the beats between the words. When Phylicia Rashad speaks, it’s intentional, soft but sure. She speaks as if she’s reading an eternally beautiful poem.

She helped me to see the truth in the aphorism that the inner reality creates the outer form. My inner reality was uncertain, unsure, and secretly abandoned.

I’d hear the teacher’s say, “give this permission slip to your mother”, my reality would present itself, and I’d hide from the internal confrontation of it all.

My inner self was afraid of the truth. But Phylicia Rashad’s words taught me to look within myself, first. I’d lean into the comfort or discomfort of discovering my own truth and became constantly aware of my truth within.

She taught me to understand myself and in turn, I’m learning to love myself. Thank you.



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