Black History Month {Personal Reflection}

Friday, February 28, 2014

As an African- American woman living in this country, black history is significant to my identity.  I wanted to reflect but waited until the last day of Black History Month to do so for two reasons:
1)      the history of my race (and every race)  impacts everyone “American History” if you will and deserves to be celebrated and acknowledged for more than just one (very short) month
2)     I live black history every day and I wanted to symbolize that in one commemorative, comprehensive post and today was the best day for that
I found myself toying with the question: What does Black History Month mean to me?
My answer to that was unexpectedly superficial. To me black history month means famous quotes and sayings, iconic images, dramatic news stories acknowledging  one time observances, an occasional commemoration, the Roots TV marathon, and a February chill.
I reflected a bit more and realized the question (the real question) is: What does Black history mean to me? I want to share some of my answer with you, to me Black history means…
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Sacrifice- in the truest definition of the word, my predecessors gave up their lives, liberties, and the very freedoms we all hold so dear for me to live my everyday life.  So many Americans (black, white, and other) have sacrificed and that can never be forgotten. From the acknowledged heroes like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the unknown soldiers, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters that gave up what was precious to them so others could thrive.

Struggle- is similar to but different from sacrifice. I think of struggle in the context of contending with an adversary or problem; the struggle for existence, the struggle for voice, the struggle for rights and awareness. Like those that have come before me, I struggle every day and being black in itself creates struggle. For some it’s the struggle of poverty, for others health, for many racism is the struggle we face, no matter the adversary we work toward solutions.
Progress- black history can be a series of learning lessons. The timeline of our achievements is amazing and looking back at those milestones often reminds many of us, how far we have left to go. Growth and development are personal (to the individual) and public (to our society) indicators for accomplishment and success. There is no yesterday without today or tomorrow.  Today I celebrate the inventors, the civil rights movers and shakers, the voting rights advocates, the slaves, the ministers, the politicians, the innovators and black icons of yesterday. Tomorrow, I strive to be one! That is progress!
Gratefulness- I am grateful to you (all of you) for your help and for your sacrifices. Thank You!
Tenacity – being tenacious is something that black history symbolizes for me; the continued efforts of the strong willed change seekers. Persistence is a characteristic of a strong soul. Determination to keep fighting despite the obstacles is something many possess but few implement.  
Enthusiastic acceptance – respect is not a strong enough adjective to express my feelings for those that have helped me get where I’m today. Black history is hardship and black society today still suffers many of the same struggles. One of my many life goals is to prevent others from suffering and I can do that with enthusiastic acceptance. Another goal is to acknowledge and respect those with formidable character! Believe, accept, take what is given, and offer favorable reception. I try to encourage, uplift, and support people in need, enthusiastically!
“The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste, and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors, and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance." -- Maya Angelou
Grief – being black in America comes at a price (yes I said it). For many that price is death or freedom. The misery and agony my ancestors experienced brings me great sadness.  The despair and torment my peers experience deepens that sadness. The future parents or family of the next Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis out there burdens my heart. My nephew, cousins, and future children may all suffer unnecessary tragedy and the thought of that brings me grief and sorrow.
Uniqueness (individuality) – Yes we are viewed as a collective but we come in all different shapes, sizes, shades, and perspectives. What being black (or even black history) means to you may be very different from your neighbor, coworker, friend, family, or peers. Each one of us has a voice, we are more than just our race, and we are a unique exhibition of thoughts, muscles, and firing brain neurons functioning in this incredibly unjust world. I’m an individual human being that happens to be black, female, and born on US soil!  That makes me apart of a race of people; everything else inside me (feelings, actions and thoughts) is what makes me unique. Celebrate it all J
Pride – the dictionary (you know I love that book) defines pride as - a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc. I wouldn’t say my pride is inordinate or excessive by any means, but it is unrestrained! I’m very proud to be a black woman and I like to think I have a civic pride as a result of being a part of the black community and culture! I value my heritage and I hope to bestow the same value and dignity I was taught to future generations.  
Love – black history is another example of love in my life. From my fiancee to my family, being alive and apart of this cultural history signifies love. Love is what brought us here and what keeps us going. I love my brothers and sisters, my fellow man, myself.  And sharing that love with everyone should be a part of what defines us; loving our similarities, embracing our differences, and celebrating diversity.  Black love makes me happy, all love brings me joy!
You’re made from love, to be love, to spread love. -- Kid President
I know this was a bit long winded and by no means is it the complete summation of my thoughts and feelings. If you know me, you know I can go on for days. I just wanted to share some of what this month, moment, and movement mean to me. There is so much for me to learn and embrace about black history and I try to do it every month not just February.


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