Black History Month presents an important opportunity, not only to celebrate the countless achievements of African-Americans and their role in shaping our history and culture, but also to reflect on where we are now as a nation, and how we can continue to grow together. Black History Month should be a time to learn from mistakes that were made in the past and aspire to a time when the only race that defines us is the human race.
Like so many African-American children, I grew up dealing with racism and ignorance, and I know kids across the country are still dealing with the same obstacles. That is why I love to work outside the ring and spread positive messages, just as much as I love performing inside the ring. When I interact with young fans, I want to instill a sense of confidence in each and every child, just as my mother did for me. For 35 years, my mother worked tirelessly to support my brother and I. She was always there to make sure I stayed on track, even when I wanted to give up or when someone told me I wasn’t good enough. She made sure the word “quit” wasn’t in my vocabulary. Throughout my entire life, I’ve never seen my mother quit. Everyone has their insecurities, but I learned early on that no one but me can determine my worth or decide my limitations. That is the message I hope to pass on to every person questioning themselves and their ability.
It’s so important to me that my fans know their inner beauty and self-worth, and that they never allow someone else’s label to limit their success. I knew that I was destined to be a WWE Diva and refused to give up. I live by the mantra, “Don’t follow your dreams, chase them,” and I hope the young fans watching me perform know that if I was able to become a WWE Diva, they can achieve their wildest dreams, too. I’m here because I beat the odds and so can you.
While I am proud to represent black women, my role as a Diva and an athlete is to be an empowering voice for women, period. Regardless of race, we all want the same things: love, respect and our individuality. My hope for the future is that, by loving what makes each of us different, we will learn to celebrate the diversity of those around us. There’s no better time than now to look in the mirror, find what we love about the reflection staring back and widen the lens through which we view each other.