“Give a girl the right pair of shoes, and she can conquer the world.” -Bette Midler
I believe this quote with my core self. I believe the right pair of shoes, given the right pair of shoes, a woman can go anywhere and do anything. Especially, if she has more than shoes to open the door.
I’m a tall girl. I have this gift of words and speech. I also know as a Black girl moving through the world with a ‘White girl name’ brings a certain level of privilege and scorn with it. I am grateful for the ability to code-switch. I am grateful for the small privilege being the smart Black girl ‘with the White girl name’ has granted. With that all that said, I know that the right shoes given to a Black girl does three things: lead, follow, kick in a door.
Let me explain how.
Lead. I believe that leaders wear sneakers and stilettos. I believe every arena in this life requires a shoe. You need to be able to transition in order to reach whom your must, where you must and when you must. Not every situation requires Nikes, but it’s good to have a pair. Some people need to identify themselves in the face of the people leading the world. Some people need to see that you need shoes that are durable and comfortable to do not so comfortable work. Like teaching. Or organizing. Or supporting. Or running with the people who cannot run or walk for themselves. Real leadership must be accessible.
Not every situation requires as YSL slingback heel–but it might be dope to have a pair so people hear you coming. There are certain rooms which require you to be similar in order to be noticed—a uniform if you will. There are certain situations in order to be taken seriously, you must be adapt to the requirement of the situation. My sneakers don’t always translate a need or exactly what I bring to the table. Sometimes, to be taken seriously, I change the shoe. Why the shoe? The shoe reshapes the whole outfit! It conveys effort, projects confidence and makes you stand up straight. Leadership requires the ability to read a room in order to get things done as they should be.
Follow. Influential people often leave trails. They leave evidence of success, or failure. If they are exceptional they leave a blueprint as well. They leave you a trail which you are able to follow–but you will need both stamina and bravery to complete such a journey. It’s not about filling shoes, no. One must be able to find and fill their own pair to follow behind. The path towards taking over the world in any arena is not about becoming a carbon copy or imitation. It is about believing in yourself while knowing you are not the bastion of all knowledge! It is about believing in someone else, almost as much as you believe in yourself. You need heroes–not idols. A hero gives space and plans–and idol will never know you are there. Choose wisely.
Kick In A Door. The right shoes have allowed me to kick in doors which I may not truly be able to stay in. I have been organizer and worker, and mogul and director. I have been the one advocating for someone else, making space for another while the same not being done for me. I understand in those acts, at this point, I must be able to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune in order to do what must be done. I have to lead by example while tempering ambition with patience. I am learning to be gracious in all things, and loud when needed. Some people hate to see you, but cannot ignore the sound of you coming. As I kick in doors, I bring people with me! I learn and build as a climb. I network. I serve. I direct. And most importantly, I remember.
I remember I have not made it to this point alone, and will never be alone. I have learned that “No” is never a final answer, it requires a different approach. It sometimes helps to remember if there is a door which won’t open for you, build you own. You cannot–I cannot–be afraid to either fail, or try. I have enough moxie to know I ain’t about to stop…so I will not fail. Psalms 46:5 says so.