Listen, you are belong to a people so beautiful.

Langston Hughes, the poet wrote about how the night is beautiful, like the faces of your people, the stars are beautiful, like the eyes of your people. Beautiful also is the sun, beautiful also, the souls of your people. You belong to a people so beautiful.

Listen, you belong to a people who had a home, a place, a land.

Nikole Hannah-Jones and Renee Watson wrote about their story, their origin, one that did not begin with whips and chain, or that dreadful voyage that took them from their home, their place , their land

Listen, your future is greater than your past.

Ben Okri once wrote about how we need to see the world differently, to see ourselves clearly. Only free people can make a free world. So infect the world with your light. Help fulfill the golden prophecies, press forward the human genius, for your future is greater than your past.

Listen, you are like dreams that hang in the air, touching everything.

The poet Lucille Clifton noted like smoke, these dreams get all in your clothes, as you wear them more than you do, trying to wave them away, but their smell is all over you, getting in your eyes, making you cry, even even the fire is gone, these dreams that hang in the air, touching everything.

Listen you are beyond the small stuff too small to see.

The artist Chris Robinson once wrote that even if somethings swim with the tide and somethings don’t, even if something are out of reach, or you feel lost and alone, you matter, beyond the small stuff too small to see.

Listen you are like the year you learned to fly.

The writer Jacqueline Robinson once wrote about how a brother and a sister used their beautiful and brilliant minds. They lifted their arms, closed their eyes, took a deep breath, and believed in a thing the year they learned to fly.

Listen you are a light for the world to see.

Kwame Alexander wrote words for the undefeated, those unforgettable, those unafraid who carried the red, white and weary blues and shined their light for the world to see.

Listen you are more than this skin you are in.

This skin you are in, is just a covering bell hooks once shared. It cannot tell your story. They can find all about you, coming close and letting go, of what they think you are. For you are more than the skin you are in.

Listen you are more than the only black kid in the class.

You are the manifestations of several lifetime of toil, said Clint Smith, the poet. You are deemed the expert on all things Morrison, King, Malcom, and Rosa. You are everyone’s best friend until you are not, a star before they render you asteroid, before they watch you turn to dust, you the only black kid in the class.

Listen you are carrying nothing but the world.

Even Amanda Gorman the poet noted that you are enough. There is joy in discarding almost everything. Though what you have left behind will not free you, but what you have left is all you need, is enough when you are armed only with your hands, open, walking into tomorrow, carrying nothing but the world.

Listen you are called to bear witness.

Cornel West once shared about how he was prepared to bear witness to the height of his capacity, to the best of radical traditions that produced him, to help people think and feel differently over and over again, as long as we work to bear witness.

Listen you are more than you name.

You are like Toni Cade Bambara, with a name you earned and worked hard for. A name that tells the story of you, whether forever constructing yourself, forever inventing yourself, you are more than your name.

Listen, you are like jasmines, perfect of perfume.

Claude McKay, the poet wrote that your scent is in the room. Swiftly, it overwhelms, and conquers. Jasmines, night jasmines, like you, are perfect of perfume.

Listen, you must transform your silence into language and action.

Audre Lorde, the poet and feminist shared how we can learn to work and speak when we are afraid in the same way we have learned to work and speak when we are tired. The weight will choke us unless we transform silence into language and action.

Listen you must accept them with love.

There is no basis whatever for their impertinent assumption that they must accept you. The terrible thing is that you must accept them, noted James Baldwin, the writer. You must accept them and accept them with love.

Listen, you are like an invisible ink

To Toni Morrison, an invisible ink is what lies under, between, outside the lines, hidden, until the right reader discovers it. The reader, open to your invisible ink.

It’s time for new dreams, new stars to pursue, new light to seek out in this mysterious pulse we call life. I started to write a reflection piece yesterday. About auto-ethnography as lists and how it changed my life. Then I let the words speak and they spoke as they wanted too, highlighting unsuspecting dimensions, just as gentle as soothing breeze.

I did then and now still believe in the power of words, their power with pushing forward the highest in us, including all we inhibit inside our minds until they come to the surface. Starting this list of things to keep literally changed my life and for the better. It spoke to my joys and my hurdles with being a mother in academia. It also spoke to my doubts, and of course my fears, but mostly importantly circles of thoughts completed, many of which were like melodies from heaven for many unmeasured silences of being a mother, being black and being female in academia. In the end, these lists helped me to stay focused on what matters to me. The rhythms of life well lived on one’s own terms. Not the accolades, not the grants, and yes not even the papers or work. All of that is minimal in comparison to the blessings, the legacies that outlive what we do, long after we are gone. And we are all going to leave one day.

So this list is more so about that inner dialogue we all have within ourselves, I had within me, a private journey to my own truths of what matters to me, what I want to be known for, and how somethings, some people, some ideas, some hurdles, all of them combined, helped to restory my life one list at time. All of that combined helped to raise the possibilities of storytelling for me, hence why it’s time for new dreams. The talented and prolific author and poet Ben Okri is my guide and his profound and enchanting book of the same title is my inspiration. The destination, as with this lists, remains unknown. But I look forward to exquisitely crafted ideas that speak to the beauty and triumph of a being a black mom in light.