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If 2020 has taught me anything, it has taught me pride, hope and change. It has taught me that though we may be knocked down, we are not to be counted out. As I type this article, I am currently blasting my "Black AF" playlist, because I want to feel Black excellence in all its splendor and glory.

Can we all agree this has been a tough year for many? We have been tried and tested in every way. As an educator to Black and brown brilliance, I’ve found my innovation and creativity challenged to capacity when it comes to remote learning. What challenges have you faced this year personally or professionally?

With COVID-19 making a vicious return, who knows what the future holds. That's why it's imperative that we reconnect to our origin and tap into a sacred place, and that's Black excellence.

“Arika, what is Black excellence, or could you at least break down your definition of Black excellence?”

No worries, I got you.

In my opinion, Black excellence is living out our ancestors' wildest dreams. So for us right now, in this very present moment of life, we are living in Black excellence. A female vice president-elect, HBCU grad and sorority member — if that ain't Black excellence, I don't know what is. And that's just one of the many examples. Real Black excellence is the Fresh Prince reunion and seeing Aunt Viv number one mend her relationship with Will Smith and get a public apology she deserved after 27 years. Wow!

Whether you operate in it or not, we all possess greatness. Now, is not the time to play small, because who does that benefit? Not you and certainly not the generation of your peers. And remember, mentees will look to you as inspiration.

Now, we need you more than ever. We need you to take responsibility and show up. We need what you offer the world. We need your skill-set. We need your mind. We need you to lend your voice. We need your example. Black excellence is not something that you can pick up and put down. It's not something you choose, it's who we are.

Find your “it factor” and change the world. Future generations are depending on you. 

If you are looking to get inspired and get all the "Black AF" feels, add the following 11 songs to your playlist and dance the day away with pride:

1. "Black Parade," Beyoncé

2. "We Got Love," Teyana Taylor

3. "Fight the Power," Public Enemy

4. "Say It Loud," James Brown

5. "Alright," Kendrick Lamar

6. "Freedom," Beyoncé

7. "Glory," Common & John Legend

8. "Be Free," J. Cole

9. "Someday We'll All Be Free," Donny Hathaway

10. "Wake Up Everybody," John Legend & The Roots

11. "Lift Every Voice and Sing," The Wardlaw Brothers (My favorite rendition.)

May we forever stay true to our God and true to our native land. 

I love you (and I mean it).