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February 2018

Before I started to recognize race as a child, I didn’t understand what the “Black Experience” meant. I just thought of life as a human experience. But like many other Gen Z’ers, I grew up in the era of Trayvon Martin, so I had a harsh introduction to racial injustice in America. I realized that unfortunately, the world often wouldn't see me like they'd saw my white classmates. Because of my skin color, I would be judged, treated differently, and would have to work three times as hard to make it just as far as those favored by society.

As I grew older I’d listen to the news, and hear my family members pray for my safety, and warn me to be aware. Back then, I saw the black experience as a topic of federal concern, something nerve-wracking. But as I grew I was shown the resilience, the power, and the beauty that the world had tried so hard to hide. Now, to be black means more to me than our oppression. It's more than discrimination, slavery, gangs, police brutality, slums, and stereotypes. 

Today, being black for me is strutting into class with a black-power fist sticking out of your hair. Knowing the words to every reggae song (even if you’ve never heard it), african street festivals, and cook outs. It's having debates with your friends about whether or not “wash day” is an extreme sport, and having relatives who'd stop at nothing to convince you "you don't know nun bout dis!" To be black was to grow up on Good Times, A Different World, and Martin. Treating the premiere of Black Panther like the superbowl. Being black is being able to rock your curls, braids, and a doobie all in one week, and learning that the goddess braids you love rocking, were once created as intricate escape plans woven into the scalps of once oppressed queens. Being black means to know your heritage and the power and significance it holds in relation to our circumstance. Being born black is being born a trailblazer. A soldier. A revolutionary. After everything we have been through as a people, we are still here, demanding change, demanding the right to rock our crowns, love whom we want to love, make money, raise strong families, and the right to prosper with the respect we deserve. 

As we all know, the month of February is dedicated to celebrating black culture and the contributions, and achievements of African Americans throughout the nation’s history. However, a lot of my friends and I had begun questioning the true impact of Black History Month. The dots I wanted to connect were...

 

Why just one Month?

Is it supposed to empower us? Or highlight our lowest points?

but mainly....

shouldn't black history be considered American History?

Whether you agree or not, it is an undeniable fact that the foundation of this nation was built on the backs of our ancestors. Black people worked from the ground up, through blood sweat and tears in order to create the things that make up our world as we know it. We deserve equal rights, and equal education. We deserve equal opportunities. We deserve to have our excellence acknowledged, and our voices listened to, not just heard. We deserve to be respected. We deserve to be empowered. And with that being said, black history should be acknowledged just as commonly as American History is.

 

With that being said, however, we've all been there. We go to our history class on the 1st of February, waiting to be told to flip to the chapter about slavery in our textbooks. As a young person of color, if all you're reading about the history of your people is the suffering and humiliation they were put through... it can have a lasting effect on how you view your place in the world.

For young people of color, it is extremely important for us to know our history for both its good and it's bad. Of course, learning about the hardships black people faced is extremely important, however, educators AND students popularize the celebration of the advancements, inventions, and revolutions won by African Americans both in history and happening today!

Although Black History should be covered regularly as a part of American history, I do think that having Black History Month is necessary. I say this because across the county and even worldwide, there are many places where diversity lacks terribly, and if it weren't for black history month those people may not ever find a reason to cover black history.

In closing, as the last night of February comes to an end, I would like to close with a short note to all of you, and to anyone who celebrates black history month.

As we say goodbye to February, we are grateful. We Have learned from our Past and have continued to plan for our future. With love and compassion, we encourage ourselves and those around us to be open, and curious. To realize that the stories that seemed meaningless years ago, will open doors of understanding for us soon. Whether you are black, hispanic, white, asian, Middle Eastern Or other...you have history. And it is important to Learn about it. Investigate it. because awareness is everything, And we all have a role in this universe. Your ancestors had theirs, and that just might help you find yours.

 

 

Goodnight :)

- AJ