Black women are inherently inspirational. There is a reason the world revisits our life stories for motivation. So many of us inspire simply by being ourselves, and we don’t do it wearing a shiny red cape. We do it in our everyday lives, wearing red lipstick and protective hairstyles. And when we need to, we do it with a pistol in one hand, a child’s hand in the other.
The life of Harriet Tubman was broadcasted on screens across the world during the release of “Harriet,” a 2019 film directed by Black woman Kasi Lemmons. In the historical reenactment of Tubman’s journey from enslavement to freedom and back again, we’re reminded of our power as Black women.
As we set our sights on the new year, here are three affirmations inspired by the film to keep in mind, as you continue mapping your journey to personal freedom:
You are connected to something greater.
Throughout her life, Harriet experienced sudden moments of unconsciousness (known as “spells”) after being hit in the head by an iron weight as a child. The head injury, caused by an overseer who threw the weight toward another enslaved Black person but hit Tubman, ultimately, brought her closer to her purpose.
It was during those “spells” Tubman heard the voice of God. As depicted in the film, this voice led her to freedom. In the woods, during one of several escapes with a group of enslaved people, she dropped unconscious to her knees and listened for guidance. Sure enough, with captors nearby, Harriet led the group safely in the other direction.She completed her mission of guiding the group of enslaved Black people to freedom because she stopped, listened and trusted herself.
Black girl, trust that you are connected to and guided by a greater force. Even through your deepest pain, you are made purposeful.
You are a limitless being; trust your visions.
After successfully escaping slavery and settling in Philadelphia, Tubman felt the need to return to her birthplace of Maryland to bring her husband up North. When she shared the desire with William Still, a Black abolitionist, he responded, “You got lucky, Harriet. There’s no more you can do.” With conviction after completing her solo escape, Harriet replied, “Don’t you tell me what I can’t do. I made it this far on my own. God was watching, but my feet was my own.”
Nonetheless, Tubman chose to follow her visions. Listening to the voice of God, she set out to rescue her family members. She made several successful trips from the South to Philadelphia that brought many enslaved Black people to freedom.Even though others could not see what she could, she trusted what she had been given and brought those visions to life. She fulfilled her prophecy.
Sister, when you feel unsupported by others and are struggling to trust your visions, remember to lean into your truth. Your visions are your own. They were given only to you because you’re the one who will bring them to life. Just trust. You will see the other side.
You are deeply loved and protected.
According to many, Tubman’s last words were “I go to prepare a place for you.” She died March 10, 1913. Even in the final moments of her life, she dedicated her afterlife to preparing a safe space for her community to be free. Black woman, you are deeply loved and protected. There are many people working daily to ensure your freedom. Then and now, your wellbeing has and always will be priority.
In the film, Tubman returned to the plantation where her niece and sister remained captive. She eased into the bedroom where her niece was forced to serve drinks to the plantation’s family. Harriet held the pistol to the noses of the family and called her niece into her arms: “Don’t be scared, Annie. I’m ya mama’s sister. We family.” Even after she journeyed 100 miles on foot, alone to take back her freedom, Tubman returned to bring her family with her.
Black girl, there may be days you feel unsupported and unprotected. Know your defense is coming and its wrath will be mighty. You are supported in the physical and spiritual, where our ancestor, Harriet Tubman, has made a place for you.
You are seen. You are loved. And every moment of every day, someone is organizing for your freedom.