There is definitely something to the saying, “third time’s the charm.” Last Sunday marks my third public declaration and representation of an “I Am” statement. Each proclamation has spoken to the truth of my ancestral heritage, which begins with the ancient civilizations of Africa…not slavery in America.
My most recent public proclamation of an “I Am” statement was as a participant in the Charleston, SC Christmas parade–representing and declaring that “I Am Nefertiti.” For the parade, I joined Robert “King David” Ross–Egyptologist and Cultural Education Consultant–on his King Tut float where we honored the Ancient Egyptian civilization initially known as Kemit.
The significance of our representation of ancient Egyptian Queens and Kings as Black people was undeniable. As we made our way along the route, I spotted my nephew in the crowd and the look on his face betrayed the cognitive dissonance he must have been experiencing. The float represented historical truths that he was not exposed to or that contradicted what he had been taught in the public school system.
In fact, Robert “King David” Ross has spent probably the last 30 years or more disrupting false narratives as a consultant to public schools, institutions of higher education, churches, etc. His annual entry in the Christmas parade is an extension of his life’s work of creating space for the recovery of truth, of resisting false narratives, and of restoring a sense of worth and identity to Black people.
My second public “I Am” statement manifested as an original poem for which I was the conduit about 12 years ago. Originally developed as a poem and visual presentation while I was attending seminary, it is being developed into a book at a pace much slower than I anticipated. Nevertheless, the first few stanzas of the poem are:
I Am She
Seeker of the Truth
Whose past stretches back to the shores of Africa
Whose present originates in Charleston, South Carolina
Whose life is in the Kingdom come
Whose hope is in the Holy One
Yes, I Am She
And to understand the intricacy of who I be
The very essence of what it means to be me
You must go back and take account of the heritage from which I come
To truly understand who I be and how I have become.
Finally, my first “I Am” proclamation occurred almost 30 years ago when I was a debutante honoree of the Alpha Kappa Alpha, Inc. Sorority. For the talent show, I embodied an African Queen declaring, “I Am Makeda, Ruler of Sheba.”
Each public proclamation has been cathartic, but maybe the “third time’s the charm.” When I first declared that “I Am Makeda” about 30 years ago, I experienced the euphoria of orientation towards liberating truth.
When I declared that “I Am She” about 18 years later, I was in a state of disorientation–grappling with the complexities and contradictions of my lived experience and my divine essence. I was in the midst of an intense process of self-examination that required me to release those things that were either false or that no longer served me.
And when I declared that “I Am Nefertiti” about a week ago as a newly returned resident of my hometown of Charleston, SC, I felt like it marked a new phase for me–a phase of reorientation. It feels like I have literally come full circle. So, maybe the “third time’s the charm.”