Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black History Month: Embracing "US"

The month of February is a time where we celebrate "US" as a people. We celebrate those who have, and still are helping to uplift our race. It is a time where think about where we are in this life, and how we got here. It is also a time where we teach our sons and daughters about our history. It is a time that is all "OURS"

As a younger child, I didn't quite understand the significance of Black History Month. I was one of those kids that knew a lot about Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, but when February came around, I was too busy wondering how many Valentine's Day cards I was going to receive, or what color barrettes did I want to wear in my hair, red or pink. February was not a time that I thought about my culture, my race, my people. I was just uninterested. Of course, during this month, teachers tried to teach us all about African-Americans like Shirley Chisholm, and others. I didn't care. Now, as I've grown older, I wish I would have listened.

Throughout my life, I have always been very eclectic, so to speak. My closest friends were of different races. I didn't see color, but on a daily basis, I was constantly shown my own color. It was constantly bought to my attention that I was black, so I should act black, I should speak black! I honestly didn't know what that meant. I spoke how I was taught to speak, I acted how I was supposed to act. As I watch other black kids in my class, I never saw myself as different, I was just like them. Then, they would come and ask, "Why do you talk like that?" "Like what?" "Like a white girl..." *blank stare* I didn't realize that I talked differently, I didn't use foul language, and I was a nerd. That was my life until the 7th grade! LOL. My peers, the ones of my own race, saw me as different, and I was a lot older before I realized why.

By the time I hit middle school, it was a big change because I was at a school for the arts. So, I was around people just like me on a daily basis, so how I spoke didn't matter. My friends were of all races. We never really discussed the impact of black history month. It was just something that wasn't discussed. We didn't want our friends of other races to feel left out. The sad thing is, they would talk about things in their lives, that we knew absolutely nothing about, so we were left out. Why did we feel the need to protect them? Why not show everyday how great of a people WE ARE? We were at this amazing school that catered to our individuality. We were able to be ourselves. so, why were we afraid to be black? Scared that they may think all blacks are the same? Afraid that they may no longer be our friends? I can honestly say, it didn't cross my mind to say anything. It was bought up, so it wasn't talked about.

 I actually learned it on my own by reading, and listening to my mom. I learned about the Civil Rights Movement and the listened to speeches by Marcus Garvey, MLK, and Malcolm X. I learned to love this beautiful race that I come from. A race, that I felt once judged me because of how I was, I learned to love and accept it. Not that I have ever not loved my race, it just was no reason to celebrate it! I had been told so long that I spoke well, but then I would have others, including family members, asking why I talked like that, or why did I act like a white girl, you know you are black, right? Of course I  know this, I saw and see it everyday that I look in the mirror. I see the gorgeous, big lips that are so prevalent within our race, the beautiful, soft body that no other race, other than Latinas, can touch. The beautiful skin that comes in an array of colors. So of course I know who I am, and of where I come from.

Black History Month means so much to me. During this time, I reflect on how I was once treated. I realize, I never cared what others thought. When they would ask those questions, I would say "I don't know, just the way I am!" It was never a time where I felt sad or down about the fact that I acted different. Black people are all different. You never really see two that are alike. We don't fit into a mold. I just feel like this shouldn't be the only time that we celebrate who we are. It should be everyday. Take pride in who WE are. Don't act like because we have black president, we can all act crazy. Nothing has changed, it is still a recession. It is still hard to find a job, it is still hard to get ahead! We have to stop blaming our problems on "The Man," because guess what? He isn't the reason, you are! Then you wonder why people think that we are lazy and good for nothing. Don't take this month as a time to act like "well, it's our month, I can get away with anything.." No, because yes, this is OUR month, but to others, it is just another month. While we are celebrating our ancestors and those who gave us all these rights, like to vote, and to actually be a human being, others are going about their daily lives, not even thinking about "US." (Okay, I have gone on a rant...let me get back to my regularly scheduled program...)

Anywho, Black History Month is a time to celebrate. Plain and Simple. Take this time to read up on blacks that you didn't know about. Read someones book other than Micheal Jordan's. Read Man child in the Promised Land, or Black Boy, or even Invisible Man. Read up on W.E.B. Dubois, or Mary McLeod Bethune. Read on your history. Be proud of who YOU are. Embrace who WE are. We need to all change ourselves. Let's be the leaders that our ancestors once were. Let's stop leaning on how to get the most money and try to do things that matter. Volunteer, build an online business that helps others. Do something that will not only uplift yourself, but your race as well. Then we can change EVERYONE's minds...

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