1442805460_viola-davis-lgOn the night of the 2015 Emmy awards, several friends texted me asking if I had seen Viola Davis’ speech. I try to disconnect from television as often as possible, so I had decided not to watch the show. My friends know me well (there’s nothing I love more than a Black girl killin’ it), so I logged on and watched Viola’s beautiful speech.

Viola Davis became the first Black woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama. This moment is our moment. Black girls around the watch Viola tearfully; we indulge and share in her glory because when one of us wins, we all win. There is a shout heard round the world— a call and response led by black girls who say “When I see you, I see myself.”

When we don’t see black women on TV, in movies, in magazines, literature, we are told – and worse, believe – that certain experiences do not belong to us. When we are erased, we are told that our presence isn’t valuable. When we do exist, we do so in service of white people: to nurse their babies, to clean their homes, to wipe their tears, to stand behind them, to ensure their success.

When Viola says, “You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there,” she reminds us that our absence from the roster of winners has nothing to do with our merit and everything to do with a cultural fiction which tells us we have none.

So we cry when a black girl wins because we’re not only being recognized for our excellence, but because we’re being recognized at all. We cry when a black girl wins because her success is our potential. We cry because the world is one step closer to knowing the truth- that “the only thing that separates women of color from everyone else is opportunity, – and goddamn, all we want is the truth.

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