“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizens Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner but the white moderate who is more devoted to order than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Today is February 1st, 2016, which means it is officially the first day of Black History Month. As a Black woman who has gone through life being taught to celebrate every aspect of what makes me different from everyone else, it’s a month long celebration I both enjoy and will always believe is much needed. If you’ve been paying attention to anything regarding the media in the last year or so, you have without a doubt seen much talk about race, and specifically what it means to be Black in this country. We don’t even need to go in detail of how critical this years presidential race has been in proving racism being an issue. As nasty as some people can be hiding behind their keyboards, talking about race and what makes us different, and causes us to lead different lifestyles, with different opportunities, is a LONG overdue discussion. There will always be people who immediately go on the defense when discussing racism. Then there are those who have expanded their minds enough to want to talk about it, and learn as much as they can to make the people around them feel comfortable.
However, to those of you who get uncomfortable when talking about anything racially related, I challenge you to learn how to be comfortable talking about race starting this month. You would be amazed how enlightening it will be for you and your friends when you sit down and have intelligent but passionate conversation about uncomfortable topics. The biggest lesson I hope all non-people of color (and people of color) take from Black History Month this year is the understanding that celebration does not equal exclusion. I have plenty of friends, who are not Black, who enjoy and celebrate Black culture the same way they celebrate their culture(s). You don’t have to be Black, or a person of color, to pick up a book or research: Black activists, actors/actresses, doctors, inventors, musicians, politicians, teachers etc. and learn what contributions they made to this country that directly effect you every single day. Your eyes will also be opened to learning there are more to Black people, and we have contributed so much more than slavery, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to America as our history books have taught us since elementary school.
My challenge to people of color this Black History Month is to take the time to teach your children about the thousands of amazing Black people who have done amazing things in this country. We can no longer use the excuse of school not teaching our children when the information plus more is available at our finger tips to teach them ourselves. As parents and guardians, we are our children’s first teachers, and we should be teaching them to celebrate and understand the bravery and sacrifice those before us endured to get us where we are, today. Have your children read a book, or go to a museum, to teach them about people such as Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, and W.E.B. Du Bois. How else will the children learn about their history if we don’t teach them what isn’t taught at school? Which is almost everything about Black History -_-.
To those of you who know me, you know I am a person who has family members and friends every shade of the rainbow. I love the people in my life, and to love them I celebrate the important aspects of their lives which makes them who they are. I expect the same in return, and one of the largest parts of being, Brienne Jamieson, is being a Black woman. Don’t tell me you’re “colorblind” or “you don’t see race“, because you are denying a large part of ME. If you move to, or visit, another country you want people to know you’re an American, right? Or on the flip side, if someone from another country moves to America we don’t expect them to reject their heritage, and all of a sudden call them selves an American do we? No. So think about these examples next time you tell someone you’re colorblind. Don’t let my Blackness, or anyone else’s Blackness, make you uncomfortable. Instead, see us for who we are and join in the beauty, celebration, and struggle, of being close to someone who loves her heritage. In turn we get to celebrate one another through our differences and similarities year round.
Happy Black History Month everybody.
Always remember Black History is Our History.