I have two daughters, two very beautiful, very intelligent young African American women. The older daughter is attending college, and the younger daughter is in her early teens and attends a school of the arts.
And I could not even begin to measure or express the very depth of my affection and adoration. I guess it then follows that I only want the very best for them. I want them to live out every inch of their tremendous potential.
So, I’m always on the lookout for public and professional role models for them, women who I can cite as exemplifying the persons I wish them to eventually become, whose narratives serve as road maps to success.
Sure, they have role models in their mother, grandmothers, aunt, and older cousins—some positive and some negative. But young women and young men need public and professional role models. They need to witness people outside their family, outside the familiar, those who are breaking new ground, who are taking the path less taken. They need to be encouraged to dream.
But I’m afraid images and narratives of persons such as these are two few, and those that are available are often obfuscated and drowned out by negativity. Daily I am appalled by the images and narratives available to our young people through the various media. That is why I became so absolutely excited when I first encountered the video embedded above.
The video is of a relatively new friend, Dee Dee Foster Theriault. Mrs. Theriault now works as a consultant, but as a collegiate athlete, she more than left her mark on the world. She was a USA Olympic Team qualifier, a USA all-around national champion, and the first ever elite gymnast in the state of Alabama.
My first reaction when I saw this video is that this has got to be the most beautiful-est thing in this world. And when I mention beauty, I don’t mean physical beauty, but what I am referring to is artful beauty, aesthetic beauty.
The beauty I am referring to is the beauty of one in the pursuit of excellence. It is the beauty of preparedness and focus. It is a beauty charged with desire. It is a beauty that bespeaks intensity and strength subtended by a certain grace, a certain spirit, a certain will to achieve, to go beyond that which is taken as the very apex of what can be achieved.
When I look at this video my mind wonders. I dream of my daughters performing gracefully on the balance beam or sprinting powerfully toward the vault. I dream of my daughters arguing vigorously before the Supreme Court. I dream of my daughters performing on a Broadway stage. I dream of my daughters performing the most complicated and difficult of surgeries. I dream of daughters exploring the very limits of their potential.
And then I sit back and contemplate the hopes and dreams I have for my two daughters, and I see the increasing possibility of those hopes and dreams coming to fruition. And I can only smile and say to myself, isn’t that the most beautiful-est thing in this world?
[You can find out more about Mrs. Dee Dee Foster Theriault and her new project serving as a personal mentor to young up-coming gymnasts as well as her new book series by clicking here.]