Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Sense Of Self--BlogHer15

When I was eight years old I danced my guts out in the middle of a mall. It was choreographed by my dance teacher, but I picked the song and I added the one move that stuck with me for over 30 years. The song was "Fame" by Irene Cara and the move was pointing my finger directly at the people watching, looking them in the eyes and singing along out loud that they will "remember" me.  I was warning them/telling them that they would remember me. I was claiming my space in the middle of the mall, and the universe.  That moment mattered.  I knew who I was and wanted to be---a strong, dancey spirit who would do something, who would make a mark.  The moment mattered because in it, I believed I did too.

That dance in the middle of a mall in the early 1980s to an Irene Cara song stayed in my heart and soul. It was the memory I summoned when my parents got divorced, when my mother drank too much, when my dad left, when my mom left, when I got rejected, when I got the job, when I lost the job, when I met the guy, when I had my babies, when I lost two babies, when I struggled with depression, when I landed the show, when I got on stage, when I doubted myself as a daughter or as a mother or as a wife or as a person.

I'm not talking about fame, it was never about that. I'm talking about having a sense of self, a knowledge of my own worth.

Over the years, this knowledge/this inner dancey/bad ass spirit is what saved me from crumbling and succumbing to peer pressure and drugs and gave me resilience to bounce back from some pretty fucking huge mistakes.  I knew that I was somebody that mattered---I didn't just take up space I danced around and in it and demanded to be seen and heard and remembered.

When I went to New York City for BlogHer15, I won an award for dancing in my kitchen (and hopefully spreading joy and realness).

While I was there I heard speakers from the #BlackLivesMatter social media campaign. I cried along with them when they discussed the Sandra Bland case that we were all just learning about. I listened to entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas with true heart and soul. The woman that won the pitch, Majora Carter, gave a moving speech, so moving she herself started crying. She looked at the audience and proudly stated, "I am a female entrepreneur and I am not afraid to cry." The audience roared with support and approval.

The open mic, the workshops, the keynote speakers were all equal parts inspiring and honest and compassionate and challenging. I walked around the conference wanting to hug people, learn from everyone, create something/everything and start a business. It made me want to make a difference, make an impact, be supportive and encouraging and inspiring and respectful.  

The closing speaker, award-winning film director Ava Duvernay, took the stage and talked about doing things "without privilege or ego, but with a sense of personhood." 

In some ways, this past weekend in NYC felt a lot like the middle of the mall in the early 1980s. Instead of just one little girl dancing in the middle of the mall telling the crowd to remember her, it was thousands of women and men coming together to remind each other of our worth and to tell the world they will remember all of us. It was a room full of women and men supporting and encouraging and inspiring and respecting each other. And making one hell of an impact.

Here's THE song with some pretty rad video of NYC in the early 1980s. 

(Click here to watch the video.)


  1. I love that you had this experience, Angela. Truthfully I wasn't sad to not go...until I started reading posts by my people who were there. I miss your person :)

  2. Getting to hug on you and dance with you was one of the highlights of my conference experience!! xoxoxo

  3. ^^^^^What Taya said is what many people are saying, I'm sure (myself included, from every time I've seen you)!

  4. ^^^^^What Taya said is what many people are saying, I'm sure (myself included, from every time I've seen you)!

  5. ^^^^^What Taya said is what many people are saying, I'm sure (myself included, from every time I've seen you)!

  6. I loved your video! It definitely spread joy! Great post--it was interesting to read what your childhood memory meant to you. I loved the BlogHer conference and being among so much inspiration and positivity.

  7. I love that moment you describe so much. Such a memory to hold on to. I have wanted to go to BlogHer for a few years now. "Maybe next year," I say to myself every year. One of these years I will make it happen.

  8. Your dancing is so full of joy and is just so YOU. I am not surprised one bit that you won an award or it. CONGRATULATIONS again!!!

  9. You have one of the best senses of self that I know! And while I am happy to dance on the sidelines while you shake your booty center stage, I am so, so happy to be your friend.

  10. I felt so good this year. Not to say past years haven't made me feel good and inspired, but this year was different, in a wonderful way. Your dancing makes me smile.