Kemet Queens: Melissa Harville-Lebron

There ain’t nothing, I repeat NOTHING, in this world like a Black woman.

Black women are LIFE.

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I made a post on Instagram a few weeks back after hearing Chris Rock on his new Netflix special Tambourine, where he said, “only children and women are loved unconditionally; but men are loved based off of what they can provide.” At the time, more than being funny the line felt true and so considered it fair game to repost. That is until I actually wrapped my brain around the saying and started to unpack it that I realized, what he said was complete and utter BS.

You know how I know?

Because Black women been loving Black men unconditionally and with their whole hearts since the dawn of time.

Yupp.

That line is fallacy, and while it may sound good or comedic, it’s totally contrary to what we know to be true. Since our first days in this newly formed country, Black women have not only carried their own burdens; but they have also stood wholeheartedly helping us carry our own. They have sacrificed for us in every way. They have been hurt for and been hurt by us. Not only have they supported us in every way imaginable physically, they have also supported us emotionally; even when our asses show we don’t deserve that type of support.

Black women are superheroes and I don’t think when us men make statements like the aforementioned one above, that we actually consider all that women bring to our lives and this world.

Hell we done had patriarchy and toxic masculinity run rampant for ages and it’s only resulted in ummmm…. World Wars.
Colonialism.
Imperialism.
Capitalism.

And a lot of the other isms that plague and harm our interconnectedness and humanity.

Screen Shot 2018-03-05 at 8.39.05 AM.png Black men gotta do better.

Or if nothing else, just learn that acknowledging a Black woman’s strength does not diminish your own.

I’ve seen Black Panther close to four times already now (yuppp. I did it for the culture. And I plan to go again. LOL!), and I can honestly say the most remarkable characters in the movie are the women of Wakanda. For those of you that haven’t seen the movie this won’t be spoiler, even though your a** should be ashamed for not supporting Blackness.

Watching the movie over and over I couldn’t help but remark on the ways in which the women of the movie were so Black and so beautiful.

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More than that, I realized how deep each of their characters were.

From the little sister Princess Shuri played by Letitia Wright, to the warrior General Okoye played by Danai Gurira, to the lovely and seemingly ageless Angela Bassett who plays Queen Ramonda the T’Challa’s mom, and to my absolute favorite the spy and social activist Nakia played by my new WCW Lupita Nyong’O; I couldn’t help but smile at the beautifully varied representations and how they connected perfectly to the reality of how women hold it down in real life.

The women of Wakanda are amazing, but make no mistake their characters are art inspired by life; not the other way around.

It’s Women’s History Month and even though we need to be better about acknowledging and putting on for our women all year around, this month we gon’ turn up and go all out for them. Honor their histories and their contributions to our very being, and actually affirm them in ways that they have always done for us; even when we have not been selfless enough to return the favor.

Sometimes we spend our time highlighting individuals from our past, and while I’m all for that, I also am a firm believer in the fact that we have to celebrate our legends while they are still here. Our women our legendary and so I wanna look at the NOW as opposed to the PAST.

Every week during Women’s History Month I will make it a priority of mine to highlight a phenomenal sister breaking down the barriers to industries and putting on for the culture.

A few days ago I happened by an article in the Source Magazine on a sister named Melissa Harville-Lebron aptly titled “MELISSA HARVILLE-LEBRON: FIRST BLACK WOMAN TO OWN A NASCAR TEAM,” and was like, “YASSSSSSSS Sis. F it up.” LOL!

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I mean a Black woman owning any sort of professional sports team is one of a kind, but a Black woman being the first of her kind to own a professional team in NASCAR? Well shit that’s major.

In fact if you look across the 133 teams contained within four separate professional sports organizations, only 9 teams are “owned” or “controlled” by women. I didn’t even realize this until I stumbled across this article “ Ranking the 9 Best (And Only) Female Owners in Sports,” where editor Dan Szczepanek gives a full statistical analysis on the disparity. Looking through the list of nine, and sparing myself a google search, I concluded that none of the women on this list were women of color.

So very little female representation at all, and no women of color? Y’all gotta tell me y’all see how monumental Melissa Harville-Lebron is.

Lebron was a former intern at Sony records, who in 2005 decided to glow up, venturing out to start her own record label. Y’all know being an entrepreneur is hard on the pockets and so at the same time she started her own business, Harville-Lebron also worked for the New York City Department of Corrections.

Wait.

What?

Talk about grinding.

Talk about the resilience of the Black women.

Ooh yea, did I mention she did all of this while single handedly raising her three kids as well as four of her nieces and nephews?

I couldn’t fathom.

Fast forward some years later and health complications that would force her to retire from her city job, Harville-Lebron made a move that took gusto and supreme faith in oneself. She started a multifaceted entertainment company, W.M. Stone Enterprises Inc, in 2014 that would be parent company for the first race team owned by a African American woman to be licensed by NASCAR.

If that ain’t Black girl magic then I don’t know what is.

Inspired by her two Black sons love of NASCAR and realizing the lack of access and opportunities for them in the field, due to an overwhelming lack of diversity; like any Black mama and woman for that matter, she decided to skirt the system and handle shit for her boys.

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Her company E2 Northeast Motorsports supports and employees multicultural drivers, with a roster of four Black and Latino drivers; even though I’m not sure if that’s two apiece, or if the four drivers are both Black and Latino. All I know is it makes me smile to see four drivers of color, because lawd knows ain’t many of us there. Melissa Harville-Lebron is a game changer and a breaker of the color barriers that previously existed in NASCAR; and while I’ve never been a fan of the sport I plan on running in just to watch and support her team.

I want you to take this story back to the kids in your class, specifically the Black and Brown ones; but most importantly for the Black and Brown young women in your space. Let them regale in this real life success story of a woman who looks just like them. Not only is she bossing up and creating the space for us to be represented where we have never seen representation; she is also adding to the narrative for what it means to be a successful woman of color in the entertainment and business world.

She is iconic and should be celebrated.

Imagine the joy on their faces and the inspiration in their eyes as you share this woman’s triumphs with our young people. Imagine the stories that we have yet to give light and life to, but we will this month and all of the year.

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I plan to go on this journey of discovery and knowledge building with you. I commit to it. I look forward to the beautiful stories of Afro Indigenous Latinx women and am excited to share with you all that I find.

Imagine all of the Black girl magic we’ll be able to share.

In love and light, as always hold it down good people!!

Posted in #nationbuilders, How are the children?, I get it how I live it, PRIDE, Professional Black Girl, Women's History Month.

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