Redefining Black Excellence: Why We Need to Rethink What It Means to Be “Excellent”

This post will talk about redefining black excellence

Not many will willingly admit this…but when most people think of black excellence, they think of successful athletes or entertainers. These people are highly esteemed and are considered the epitome of black excellence. While there is nothing wrong with being a successful athlete or entertainer, this narrow definition of black excellence excludes many other equally deserving people.

For example, what about black parents who raise their children with love and care despite difficult circumstances? What about black students who excel in their studies despite facing financial hurdles? What about black entrepreneurs who create successful businesses despite the odds stacked against them? All of these people are examples of black excellence, yet they are often overlooked because they don’t fit into the traditional definition of what it means to be excellent.

Ready, Let’s go!

Why I’m writing this post

Well, I always talk about the spirit of excellence. I have written numerous blog posts; one of my most recent ones is titled “11 Characteristics of the Spirit of Excellence,” which is accompanied by a YouTube video.

Whenever I write about the spirit of excellence, I always think about black excellence. It’s been on my mind for some time, and I’ve finally decided to get out of my comfort zone to type up this honest, reflective post that will hopefully spark conversations to pursue excellence more excellently in the black community.

P.S I have a YouTube video attached at the end of this post that accompanies this particular blog post.

Resilience in the face of adversity

The black community has been through a lot. Systemic and structural barriers, societal disadvantages, and countless other challenges have been thrown our way, but we continue to thrive. This is due in part to the resilience that we exhibit in the face of adversity.

But this resilience doesn’t just come from nowhere- it is born out of the soul and heart of the black community. Throughout the world, you can find examples of this resiliency, strength, and courage in black communities all over the map, i.e., Africa, America, the Caribbean, etc.

Seven benefits of black excellence

There are many benefits to black excellence.

  1. Black excellence is inspiring. It shows us that we can achieve great things no matter where we come from or what we have been through.
  2. Black excellence highlights overcoming odds and barriers – it proves that anything is possible if we set our minds to it and work hard.
  3. Black excellence is pioneering – it blazes a trail for others to follow and paves the way for future generations of black leaders and achievers.
  4. Black excellence is empowering – it gives us the strength and confidence to take on whatever life throws.
  5. Black excellence is aspirational – it motivates us to reach for our own personal best and become the best version of ourselves.
  6. Black excellence is unifying – it brings people together and reminds us that we are all in this together.
  7. Black excellence is a celebration – it gives us something to be proud of and a sense of accomplishment.

The need to redefine (expand) black excellence

Before I begin this section, I feel the need to clarify the following: When I say “redefine,” I don’t mean lowering the standards of excellence. I’m just saying that excellence has been pigeonholed to fit a particular type of people, a select few. Therefore, this explains our need to “redefine” what black excellence means.

The following are the three reasons why we need to redefine black excellence:

  1. First, redefining black excellence can help to inspire more people. When people see that there is no one mold you have to fit into to be considered excellent, they are more likely to believe that they can achieve excellence too.
  2. Second, The black community is not a monolith, and each person has their unique story and experience. I believe we should take a moment to hear and appreciate each unique journey.
  3. Third, redefining black excellence can help us better understand black people’s unique contributions to society. When we only focus on a few examples of black excellence, we overlook the many other ways black people have contributed to the world.

Seven ways to redefine black excellence

Here are seven things that are crucial to redefining black excellence:

1. Break the cycle of generational trauma

Many black people have experienced trauma in their lives. This trauma can be passed down from generation to generation, making it difficult for black people to achieve success. However, there are ways to break the cycle of generational trauma. Therapy can help people process their trauma and learn how to cope.

2. Confront negative thoughts

Confronting negative thoughts can play a significant role in black people’s lives. Due to the challenges we have faced (and continue to face), we often become conditioned to believe negative thoughts. We may think we are undeserving or don’t have what it takes to be successful. These negative thoughts can limit us and prevent us from reaching our full potential. To redefine black excellence, we need to break the cycle of negative thinking. We can do this by seeking therapy, mentorship, and support from others. We also need to be willing to invest in ourselves and our own futures.

3. Expand definition of excellence

Expanding our definition of what it means to be excellent. As I mentioned in the beginning of the post, we only think of certain people as being excellent, such as athletes or celebrities. However, there are many other people who are excellent in their own right. By expanding our definition of black excellence, we can include more people in the conversation and better understand the unique contributions that black people have made to society.

4. Mentoring others

Mentoring can help black youth to see that there are role models who look like them and have achieved success. It can also help to provide guidance and support that can lead to success. Finally, mentoring can create a sense of community and belonging. When black youth feel like they belong to a community, they are more likely to excel.

5. Supporting others

Supporting others who are striving for excellence. Too often, we only think of those who have already achieved excellence as being the only ones who deserve our support. However, everyone deserves our support, regardless of their current level of success. By supporting others who are striving for excellence, we can help them to achieve their goals and inspire them to reach new heights.

Another angle to this point is that at times, people idolize the idea of black excellence but don’t take the steps to actually support it. At times people will support people they don’t know and fail to support the closest people to them. This needs to change.

6. Celebrating our achievements

Too often, we downplay our achievements or take them for granted. However, our achievements are worthy of celebration. By celebrating our achievements, we can inspire others to achieve their own success.

7. Redefine meaning of “success”

Success is not just about achieving material wealth or fame. It is also about making a positive impact on the world around us. By redefining success, we can inspire others to achieve their own goals and make a difference in the world. We can also create a new standard of success that is based on our unique talents and abilities.

Redefining black excellence is about more than just redefining what it means to be excellent. It is also about redefining what it means to be successful. When we redefine success, we can inspire others to achieve their own goals and make a difference in the world.

Incorporating the Spirit of excellence (Christian-focused)

As stated in my other posts, when we think about excellence, we often think of success in our careers or achievements in our personal lives. However, the spirit of excellence goes beyond just worldly accomplishments. It is an attitude of always striving to do our best for God, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. It is a willingness to put God first in everything we do and to follow His plan for our lives.

People often see black excellence and the spirit of excellence as mutually exclusive. However, one can dovetail the spirit of excellence with black excellence. It is possible. When you pursue the spirit of excellence, I believe everything else seamlessly falls into place. You inspire your community and pioneer in your giftings when walking in your God-given purpose authentically.

Quick example- my grandfather lived to be over 100. In the eyes of the world, he was possibly seen as illiterate and not successful. However, in my eyes, he embodied the spirit of excellence because he was an intercessor. He spiritually opened so many doors for me through prayer and fasting. I know many people can identify with that. You probably had (or have) a prayer warrior in your generational line. They might not have met all the societal norms for excellence, but they did carry great weight in the spiritual realm. You are possibly enjoying all the spiritual seeds they planted in the secret place. That is the spirit of excellence that fits seamlessly with black excellence.

When it comes to black excellence, it should be more than just a hashtag. We can incorporate the spirit of excellence which essentially means leaning into the Spirit of God for discernment and direction. We aren’t relying on our own strength but the strength of God! This is when excellence becomes even more purpose-driven; why? Because it becomes an attitude that we pursue the glory of God with authenticity and integrity. In addition to that, I truly believe when you pursue the spirit of excellence, you automatically pursue excellence in your spheres of influence!

And that’s it, folks, redefining black excellence

In conclusion, redefining black excellence means expanding what we see as excellent. This can be done by breaking generational trauma, reaching out and mentoring others in our community, supporting one another, and appreciating unique expressions of excellence. We are all excellent in our own way, and we should also strive to see excellence in others.

While this new perspective doesn’t eradicate all the issues we currently face, I believe it’s a piece (albeit small) that can help us move forward to achieve great things.

Here is the corresponding YouTube video to this blog:


Heather Chesiyna_Signature_MOS

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