If you asked me who my heroines are — who inspire me to reach greatness in art and life, I’d name the following four women (yes, one is fictional): Serena Williams, Garnet from Steven Universe, Somi, and Beyonce.
In third grade, I had to do a short presentation on a famous person. I chose Serena Williams. At the time, the Williams sisters were shaking things up and changing the game of womens’ tennis — winning championships, making headlines, and making history. I just happened to choose her for my biography project because, well… like me, she was the little sister of the family. Tennis also happened to be — and still is — my favorite sport of all time.
Fast forward fifteen years, and Serena Williams is not only the #1 player in the world. She’s also her 23rd grand-slam title in the Open Era to tie the previous record holder, Steffi Graff. She is not just the greatest female tennis player in the history of the sport; she is one of the greatest athletes of all time.
But that’s not the sole reason why I admire her so much.
Every time I watch a match of hers, I admire her powerful style of play and athleticism. I also admire the fact that even though she’s #1 in the world, she’s not perfect. She’ll get angry and break a few rackets when things don’t go her way. She won’t win every single point in a game or set. But she won’t go down without a fight. She won’t give up. In the face of hurdles, she doesn’t quit.
That’s why I look up to her for strength. She strives for excellence in her craft, and she doesn’t give up in the face of challenge. I admit that I often give up in the face of challenges, so Serena Williams is that reminder for me. Everything I do doesn’t have to be perfect.
It just has to be my best and strongest.
Garnet (from Steven Universe)
Garnet from Steven Universe is an extraterrestiral being made up of two gems — Ruby and Sapphire. Ruby is the hothead; Sapphire is an ice user. Balancing fiery emotion and rational thought is hard to do at times — especially when you’re expected to be the leader of a group and to show your strength at all times.
Hence, when pervasive negative thoughts threaten to tear her apart, she meditates about it.
Part of the reason I started my meditate for 28 challenge is because of her and because of the show in general. The first time I watched Steven Universe, I caught it on TV in my third year of living in the college dorms. Magic, female characters, and the leader of the group having an afro/clearly inspired by African American likeness? Artistically speaking, it was right up my alley.
But when the episode “Mindful Education” came on, that was when I felt like the character and the show changed my life forever. Like Serena Williams, Garnet is strong and capable. She’s also not perfect, but she chooses not to let her weaknesses consume her.
For this reason, I look to Garnet for peaceful balance. She is a reminder for me that I don’t have to be controlled by my fears, my emotions, or my thoughts.
I control my own destiny.
Somi and Beyoncé
I wanted to talk about these two together, because I find the things I admire about them to be similar.
Beyonce has always been a childhood idol for me. I’ve always admired her as a singer since she was in Destiny’s Child. She has a very distinct mezzo soprano voice, she dances well,and is all around an awesome person.
Somi, on the other hand, is a more recent love. My sister introduced her to my family, and I ended up listening to quite a few of her songs via YouTube and falling in love with jazz again.
What made Beyonce become a heroine for me was when she dropped Lemonade last year on HBO. What made Somi a heroine for me was when she did her own rendition of Nina Simone’s “Four Women” called “Four African Women.”
Say whatever you want about Lemonade — good or bad. It’s political. It’s offensive. It’s coarse. It’s African American. It’s feminist. But above all else, it’s honest. I loved how honest Beyonce was about the pain of being cheated on, the pain of being cheated on when you’re at the top of one’s game, how she incorporated that pain into her childhood and to the pain and disrespect that African American women face on a daily basis.
I love how Somi, in her latest album The Lagos Music Station, is honest in the same way (without the coarse language) about the plight of African sex workers, body image, racism, poverty, culture shock, and much more. The pain just translates into her jazz style so well.
Different styles of musicianship, same high level of artistry.
That’s the kind of art that I want to produce. And when I say that, I don’t mean I’m going to make a music video and smash some cars with a bat and all that stuff, but I mean that I want to produce art of that caliber. I want to produce art that’s raw, unflinching, and truthful, curse words or not.
This is why I look to Beyonce and Somi for honesty.
What About You?
How about you, dear readers? Who is your hero? Who are your heroes? Who is your champion/inspiration? Do you have multiple people/characters that you look up to for strength?
Let me know in the comments below 🙂 . I promise to read each one.