WATCH: Michaela Angela Davis Explains Why She’s ‘Grateful to Be Black’

By Kenrya Rankin Aug 22, 2016

StyleLikeU’s “The What’s Underneath Project” convinces thought leaders to strip down both literally and figuratively to talk about identity and the factors that inform it. The latest video, posted today (August 22), features writer and activist Michaela Angela Davis as she undresses down to her underwear and discusses self love and exactly what she adores about being Black. Here are some key moments:

On being othered:
The first obvious assumption is that I’m mixed race. Like, one parent is White, one parent is Black. And it’s not so. Both of my parents are light-skinned and Black. Both of my parents of products of what I call the great horror story and the great love story of America. In order to survive, often families would marry other light-skinned blacks to stay alive. So many people would want me to be something other than Black. “Oh, but you could be Brazilian. You could be from this island off the coast”—like, why can’t I be from Philly? There’s never been a time where I haven’t been, not just proud—grateful to be Black.

On Black contributions to American culture:
We not only survived, we gave this country culture. We gave you spirituals, then we gave you jazz, then we gave you blues, then we gave you hip-hop, then we gave you art and rock and soul and style and food and a soul. Why wouldn’t I want to be that? That shit is hot to me.

On coping with the pain of being Black in America:
One of the things that we learned from the previous generation—particularly women in the movement—they did not take care of themselves. There was so much sacrifice for the movement that people got sick and broken. So part of that is to take care of myself, to surround myself with love as much as I can. To break from it and to continue to challenge, to continue to do the work.

Watch the full, inspiring video above.