What ‘Black Excellence’ Means to Me

According to the Urban Dictionary:

“Someone that is black and portrays great qualities and abilities that make the black community proud.”

Don’t start thinking, “Here we go, another read about the trials of being black in America—”

It’s not. Not really. It’s more about a soul journey, for me as a black woman, because, well, let’s face it… I’m black. Ha ha. But for others, it may be a different connection.

Photo Cred: Maria Chacon

My journey roughly began around the same time as my hair journey. I was 23-years-old and unhappy with my direction in life and self. Nothing was right, I was doing ‘life’ but it didn’t feel like my life. It was almost as though I was going through a mid-life crisis, except I wasn’t even a quarter of a century old yet.

But that’s another story, which I will get into one of these days. I decided to cut my hair which was a big deal because my hair–for a black girl with relaxed hair—was considered long. My Dad even called me crazy for taking a pair of scissors to it. But it was liberating!

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Left: Relaxed BSL Hair Right: TWA Stage Natural

Nevertheless, it was the catalyst for starting fresh and RIGHT. At first, it was about my hair. Researching hair care techniques and following a regimen. Then it flourished into mind, body, and soul. As I did research, I followed blogs and social media pages dedicated to natural hair care, I began to realize it all boiled down to one thing: self love.

Take care of you on the inside at first, and everything else will fall into place.


I don’t mean to get all Oprah-y but after that, I had a craving to get fit. I’ve been in decent shape but never in great shape, so I wanted to see if I could do it. I began falling in love with my journey, discovering different parts of myself I didn’t know I was capable of or didn’t realize I craved!

The next thing I decided to do was go to school for Nursing. I was an A/B average student, I got into the program and felt super accomplished. That was also the first time I received a D on anything in my life. I was devastated. I really started to look at myself and began questioning my abilities. After several crying sessions, I realized I was a “Triangle.”

Literally…me after failing Nursing Fundamentals. Ugh!

Yes, a “Triangle,” trying to fit into a “Circle,” not realizing my sharp edges weren’t setting me back. I had to embrace my “sharp edges” and stop trying to change their shape.

You get me?

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Why yes, Willa! I’m following you! Continue, girl!

In other words, I had to live for me. I think that was the first time I made a decision for myself and my happiness, and not to please anyone else.


It was the best decision I made in my life. Everything feels right! Although, I am still on my journey, it feels like I am on the RIGHT path. I’m on the path to excellence.

Black excellence, to me is basically a path to self discovery narrated by a person living the black experience.

Some may think it’s not different, but it actually is.

There are things culturally, a black person has to sort through within their households, within their community that others may not experience or have a hard time relating to because they frankly don’t tend to share those same experiences. When the narrative in a systemically prejudice society, whether it’s intentional or unintentional, (your viewpoint may differ depending on many factors) is basically, “You’re the underdog and forever and always will remain the underdog. There isn’t anything you can do about it, so get over it!”

It kind of becomes the silent doubt that lingers in the back of your mind. Not just your mind, but we are talking about generations…from all over, not just Black America, the entire African diaspora, just putting their pride aside and getting by, surviving not living. It’s complex because of different experiences around the globe, but what is interesting is Black people in different cultures understand this feeling.

Yep, they get it.

However, going on a self- love journey, understanding who YOU are (for us, the earlier in life the better), and staying true to yourself will lead you to personal excellence FIRST. You’ll grow so much that you don’t care about the statistics within your own community. YOU will defy them. YOU will change them, just by understanding who YOU are, naturally.


YOU break the mold.

Black millennials are waking up and we are rewriting our narratives. We are stepping into our ‘happy places’, it’s not about competition. No, no, no, never that. It’s about embracing who I am individually and aiming to be the best version of me I can be possible, and uplifting other Black people who are trying to do the same because we KNOW what it is taking to get us there. The footnote is that we are Black. A perfect way to understand this is to question one thing:

In 2017, a world full of progressive thinkers, why are there still so many “First Black” anythings right now?


Essence Magazine on SnapChat: Be unapologetically you, what I aim to do on my blog! Kehlani speaks her truth on the daily.
We all have been there, embrace whatever you have, just OWN it! Teyana Taylor’s body though…***SPEECHLESS***
Understand, be open-minded, and be aware. Janelle Monae: the epitome of Black Excellence to me!

We are growing as a collective, inside and out and it is a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL thing to see. I know I am, and I’m loving the me I am today, and the me I will become.


“Chin up and always tilt your Crown, Queen.”



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