September 3, 2020
My smile eye, Dr. Deidre Hill Butler Associate Professor of Sociology and Academic well what's my title now Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer. I’ve been an educator and scholar of Black resilience for 30 plus years. My contribution to this project is about my smile, the power of my smile. and it brings me back in so many ways. The power of who I am as a woman as a Black woman as a human being who resonates joy and resilience in this world.
In 1985, R&B artists, Rene and Angela had a hit song called “Your Smile”; I was a teenager back then I think I was turning 16 that year. The second verse really captured me it says
“In your touch there's tenderness
A sweet caress that soothes all pain
When I'm lost and feelin' low
To you, I go to make things right again”
The chorus is “but nothing means as much like a special touch, From your smile”
That caught on the catch to me at the age of 16 and it has layers to it. It talks about you know tenderness and love and the power of a smile and attraction for me is a budding teenager; it was just the power of the smile.
That same year got my license and to be honest with you I did not pass the first time I didn't look to my left when I was taking a turn the first time but when I took the test again I got my license and I was rolling along. One day, I was stopped for a driving violation by a cop, a white man over 6 ft tall with the dark dark sunglasses on. He said to me, Do you know why I pulled you over and I didn't know why he pulled me. I said nervously, I think I was speeding? I apologize, sir. I was going for my license and registration in a respectful manner and then I turned in nervousness extreme nervousness I gave him the material and then I guess I flashed my smile. “He said you have a beautiful smile so I'm going to let you go. I want to let you go not even with a warning. Just remember to pay attention and slow down.” so my smile got me out of that shenanigans.
That year my family gave me a sweet 16 party. I was little nervous and excited and my friends from all my different friend groups came and there was a particular basketball star guy that I really liked and wanted him to come and he did come to the party. We danced all night. Everyone had a good time. One of my friends gave me a cookie, a cookie cake. I love those things. I see the place in the mall all the time and it makes me smile every time I see that place. I don't think I've had a slice of cookie cake since 1985, but we dance we danced and the pictures from that event show me smiling. I don't stop smiling. I'm just grinning the whole time and I was so elated and just so happy. Just thinking about turning 16 and my budding womanhood, the smile has been the major focus and actually I think when I was a little girl about six or five and six years old we attended a Baptist Church, Ebenezer Baptist Church, in Boston Massachusetts and the teenagers called me “smiley” you know they see me and I wasn't Dede or Deidre I was smiley.
I exuded this energy and you know I was going through a lot of things. I have been through some pain. I'm a Survivor and a thriver, yet my smile is still there. It is still vibrant and I'm so grateful for it. My smile invites friendship. It brightens. I met people on planes and people in the library and in stores. I have had constructive conversations and the smile has been that inviting window into those exchanges. I am appreciative for my smile. I am appreciating being who I am. and the places where I've gone and I think my smile continues to open doors for me to just see the world in a brighter way. I pressed through some hard times but also to express the joy and to keep dancing and to keep laughing and to be open to love, friendship, companionship. Being open to sharing. I just know now as I reflect on the lyrics from the Angela Winbush song from 1985, “your smile” I think about when I gave birth to my first and my second son and their smiles as newborns their smiles as toddlers. Sometimes the smiles were a little mischievous yet I was happy for the smiles. I would open the door on an early morning and one or both would jump in the crib waiting for me to play with them or just dance around. My older son, Emmanuel when he was a toddler we would dance every day. We enjoyed each other and his smile infectious as well. I am so happy that I passed it on to him. I passed on the smile and openness and kindness. I believe that's my purpose in this world to be someone that encourages and shares her smile.