Well, here we are with another year in which we have 28 full days to honor, appreciate, acknowledge, celebrate, LEARN, TELL and TEACH about African Americans who helped shape and build this country’s infrastructure by making many awesome and unfortunately unknown societal contributions, during BLACK HISTORY MONTH in February.
It has been said, by the unenlightened few, that we should re-think this month’s celebratory ‘hoopla’, and find no true need for any recognition of those persons long forgotten, ignored and erased by American history books. But, if erased from the consciousness of our hearts and minds, then we will regretfully continue to live with unconscious and un-intended injustices imposed upon each other’s collective existence.
I say they are both wrong and right at the same time. Wrong because there would be no America without the toils and labor of the former enslaved peoples, whose blood sweat and tears are forever cemented into our lives, whether we realize it or not. I am here to help bring awareness to those who disagree. Right because we do need to rethink this month and use these days to reframe our history and broaden perspectives. Better, more inclusive, and therefore more accurate historical references can be taught during this month. American history has never been completely told, and can’t be found in textbooks, either. In fact, once again, there would be no USA without blacks, who were present and necessary at its very core, foundation, and for continued growth and existence. Our economy was established and sustained because of black people.
While whites, who were by the way, IMMIGRANTS here, were creating laws policies and negotiating the sale of cotton, beans, potatoes, tobacco, and other commodities, including the thriving trade and sale of slaves, black people were the very people who planted, picked, sowed, and packaged these products that made those immigrants rich. They cooked, cleaned, bore children and babysat White children every day. They cooked the best foods in kitchens for white dinner tables, but in their own substandard cooking and living quarters, they made masterpiece culinary delights from the scraps and leftover, unwanted foods.
Beaten, dehumanized, separated from loved ones-children from mothers and fathers, fathers from children, husbands from wives, siblings from one another- and they still performed countless uncelebrated acts of greatness yet unknown to the masses today.
So, we must celebrate these brave people who gave their lives for this country, in order that their lives have not been in vain, and aren’t forgotten. The resilience borne out of the reality of their constant struggle, daily fear, and daily ‘beat-downs’ is unmatched by any people who’ve walked this earth before us or since. That alone is a sign of great strength. Therefore, we must celebrate them. The psychological abuses they suffered, endured and survived, as human beings, were unimaginable, and when we talk reparations here in this nation, if nothing else… honoring their humanity, their equality, their determination, their ancestry, heritage, and yes, even their defiance, fear and anger felt by them, IS the ultimate reparation.
Perhaps, we could be on the road to diffusing some of that real and perceived anger, by starting to address their concerns, which reflect a much larger issue, whether anyone realizes the origins…like the ‘original sin’.There are many different versions of the ‘circumstantial’ evidence, but many still operate under the assumptions that there was an actual original sin.[That is another conversation.]
The similarities between the construct of an ‘original sin’ and my self-termed, “Immaculate PERception”, is that the views, beliefs, and thought processes are real, we act upon them, but aren’t consciously aware of the origination of these, otherwise, negative perceptions of others. It traces back to a reality far reaching, greater than ourselves, and has been perpetuated by society, negative stereotypes and personally and proximally shared experiences lived on a daily basis. [However, that too, is another conversation.]
You see, we do have a lot to talk about, and so much to learn about one another. This conversation, today, is about honoring through teaching and learning about the original African-Americans as it pertains to our collective reality.
Education is the vehicle by which we can begin to heal a nation of people who are suffering from the effects of a past reality, of which we had no role. We are but descendants of our past, and as traditions should be valued, kept and honored, some of the traditions that are embedded in our nation’s political and psychological fabric should be confronted, examined, challenged, and appropriately reframed for a more mindful, egalitarian society. We should have grown up in our thinking in ways that reflect and respect the diversity in this country.
OUR ancestors, largely forgotten, erased and maligned in history deserve that we formally recognize all African Americans as full citizens, equal as humans in range of emotions, potential for success, and recognizing that each black person that we meet, is indeed unique within their own right. We must recognize that it is not because we want to be mean, biased, prejudiced and discriminatory against people of color. It is essentially not your fault or mine, that our perceptions and perspectives have been grounded in a deeply ingrained mindsets that have been perpetuated by the historical absences of positive imagery.
It is not your fault, nor is it mine, that we have separate realities, experiences, but also commonly held ‘immaculate perceptions’ of one another, that have been fed to us through a legacy of misrepresentation of one another’s HUMAN nature, traits, qualities, intentions, and intelligence. It is not your fault nor is it mine that negative stereotypes prevail and influence our interactions, judgments, decisions, actions, and perceptions of one another’s intent. It is not your fault, nor is it mine that when some see you, they feel anger and distrust, or when you see some blacks, that sometimes your first reaction is fear of their harmful intent.
What we can each be blamed for is the absence of dialogue that will dispel negative stereotypes, myths, misnomers, and address implicit bias, at the core. What we can be blamed for is the ignored cries of those who scream for justice, when they say,” Black Lives Matter”. We can be blamed for ignored cries of tainted, foul smelling and bad tasting water in Flint, Michigan. We can be blamed for ignoring our inner voices, our better selves, when we see injustices and are swayed on the side of excuses, and turn a blind eye.
With all of the knowledge that you and I possess, and all of the information that can be possessed via the internet, there are no excuses for not giving little black AND Latino children some heroes, real people, to look up to AS TAUGHT TO THEM IN SCHOOL. We can start today, for each new day offers us a chance to start anew, and do better, be better than yesterday. We can perform our ‘due diligence’, in the best interest of the little girls and boys, regardless of race or ethnicity, who look up to you, and look TO you to show them that they each matter and can make a difference in this world, to society, their family, themselves, each other….positive differences!
This is why we should make the most of the next 28 days, and celebrate one another and teach a better day, by teaching how out of darkness can come bright lights, by teaching about HOW the dark past has given us many bright lights that should shine in the hearts and minds of all of us, the children, especially little black and brown ones. You can make a difference; I can make a difference; You matter; I matter; Your lives matter; Black lives matter…..OUR lives matter!
Otherwise, we will continue to see the hate spilling out over this nation, and the world. Everyone needs a hero! History forever remains HIS-story, without telling the real story, and that is the People’s History. That is why we must celebrate BLACK HISTORY MONTH… so we can finally get it right! Tell me that we will make conscious efforts to teach and learn something about blacks that we didn’t know before. Find the connection to your life today, and celebrate the humanity of us all!
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said:
” EITHER WE LIVE TOGETHER AS BROTHERS[and sisters], OR WE DIE TOGETHER AS FOOLS!”
My mama didn’t raise no fool!.. How about you? Can we do this?