The Power of Recognition


Aya Fubara Eneli, M.A., J.D.


In the US, February is Black History Month. In a few days, we will celebrate President’s Day. Last month we remembered Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contributions to our country and the world. Next month, we have occasion to celebrate Women’s History Month.

I have often heard people gripe and moan about these celebrations. They don’t see the point of it all. Some even say it divides us as a nation, but I beg to differ. I believe that we all thrive on recognition and appreciation. When we take the time to acknowledge and honor people and groups of people for singular efforts, we encourage them to continue in their good work and we create models for future generations to emulate and hopefully
even surpass.

Show me a marriage in which both spouses do not feel affirmed and appreciated, and I will show you a miserable marriage.  Show me a company in which top producers are routinely ignored and never rewarded, and I will show you a soon-to-be bankrupt company. Show me a child who never feels appreciated and valued, and I will show you a rebellious child. Show me a nation that diminishes the contributions of many of its citizens because of gender, ethnicity, race, disability, etc., and I will show you a broken nation missing out on the best its citizens have to offer.

It is no coincidence that many (if not all) the groups that are recognized with monthly celebrations were historically (and some will argue still are) groups that faced extraordinary obstacles in the form of government sponsored and supported discrimination. No sane person will argue that as a nation, we did not have laws that significantly limited opportunities for success in a wide variety of areas for both non-whites and women.

These monthly celebrations though not the answer to all our problems, provide us a unique opportunity to re-examine history and to re-educate ourselves about the myriad contributions of so many people who were nonetheless ignored and even maligned. This re-education will challenge many false assumptions we may have of one another and actually bring about more unity and understanding. More unity and understanding leads to a stronger nation. Remember, a house divided can never stand.

I encourage you this year, to commit to reading a book or watching a movie to expand your knowledge of the contributions of different groups and people in our nation. Study about Lewis Latimer, the son of Black slaves, who was so skilled that he at various points in his career worked with Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. He has seven patents to his credit. Read about Dr. Mae Jemison, the first African American women in space, or Prof. Dagogo Fubara (my father), the first person of African descent to earn a
doctoral degree in Geodesy.

What do you know of the lives of Indira Gandhi, Margaret Thatcher, Rosalind Franklin, Zora Neale Hurston, or you own grandmother as a matter of fact? Embrace the opportunity to learn and expand your mind.

And as we go back to unearth forgotten and unheralded lives and lessons, let us choose each day to look for the good and the great and the consistent amongst us now and recognize and celebrate them all. It is for you, it is for our future. I wish you an abundant life.

Aya Fubara Eneli is a best-selling author, Christian Life Coach,
Motivational Speaker and Attorney. Her life’s purpose is to empower and equip people to live up to their highest potential. For more information on her seminars or to book her for your next event, visit, or e-mail her at