colorism, Personal Blog, reflection, social anxiety, stereotypes

“NOT MY TYPE”

The physical attractiveness of a woman is important. I learned that simply, and rather quickly through shared opinions of peers. I had learned that beauty matters before I truly learned to define it by my own standards.

Ever since puberty crept in, I understood and delved into the world of sexual attraction between men and women. This understanding of romantic and sexual relationships expanded with age. With each year, friends, family, and nameless faces provided an example of what beauty cannot be — beautiful women did not typically look like me. I know this because beautiful women made it to front covers of magazines and fronts of lines when some faint-hearted man notices her. When I finally noticed boys, I noticed how they hardly noticed me. Like many other preteen girls, I wanted to know why the boys did not like me. I wanted to know why they sat starry-eyed with my friends but sat stank-faced when speaking with me. I needed to know.

I was eleven. I began my sixth-grade year in a primarily Latino/Hispanic school where the majority of the students learned English as their second language. Along with learning a new language, I began learning a new world. This new world was one dictated by physical attributes and the ability to use them as an advantage in order to succeed. In middle school, physical attributes helped with achieving certain friendships and “first crushes.” I remember my first crush being a short Latin boy (called “M” for the sake of the story) who attended middle school with me. And although I spent what felt like decades chasing after him, I came to realize early on that first crushes and physical attributes had little to do with my ability to land my first kiss.

As I looked at my surroundings and the pale faces that stared back, I realized the reason for (much of) my social anxiety was simple: I was black — and I definitely knew it.

Being Black “Kicked In”

When I was a young girl, around age 7 and 8, I remember growing cautious of the amount of time I spent baking in the sun. The phrase “too dark” was already eerily familiar, although I had often forgot the exchanges that mentioned it. Remember the joke, “god left you in the oven for too long”? Let us not forget being compared to primates! Beyond the name-calling, I had this desperate voice directing me to retreat towards a shaded area. The older I grew, the more my aware I became of the comments others made about the color of my skin. I actually because hypersensitive towards it; I began to believe much reason for my failure to integrate into the social bodies is due to my fear that others are negatively stereotyping me.

Vivid memories of rejection fill my head when I think of middle school. Before sex was even a topic of discussion or fleeting thought, my value was lowered based on my lack of sex appeal to the vast majority. Certain phrases emerged in my head on a daily basis as I walk passed large groups of men, especially when I am a racially homogenous area. I am not sure how a young preteen could pick up on such implicit racial biases, but somehow I found myself crying on bathroom floors because some boys compared my lady parts to purple curtains. They would ask me why my vagina is purple, and not pink. It is a shame that I would ask myself the same thing. At twelve years old, I did not find much fault in their thinking; instead, I found myself flawed and faulted. I wanted to be pink. I wanted to be light. I wanted so badly to be beautiful. Instead, I was an ugly cocoa puff in a bowl of milk. Trapped in suburbia, born in some “hood” of Las Vegas where the men try to sell you something at every corner store.

More time elapses, and I am not smack dab in the middle of my ‘maturing process’ as a young woman. High school threw me into a whirlpool of insecurities as I found myself amongst people who knew nothing of me. For the first time in my life, I realized what it meant to be a black woman in a primarily white surround. As I am coming into myself, learning of my own weakness and growing awareness of my own desires and fears, I begin to understand the impacts of racial prejudice and racial preferences on little brown girls (just like me), and within communities.

Is It All in My Head?

My friends were always very racially and culturally diverse. From elementary to high school. My closest friends were Asian, white, and Latina. Regardless of what school I attended, I found myself mingling amongst different racial groups with ease. Everything would be laughs and fun until the boys got involved and decided what was fun, who was fun, and why. If my friends and I were going to hang out with another group of young boys, I was generally the girl left out (without realization). There were times I had my friends ask why a certain boy did not like me, and his response more often than not would sound something like this:

“I don’t like black girls”

“She is too dark”

“She is pretty, but not my type”

“I only see her as a friend”

and the best yet,

“She is so pretty for a black girl.”

At the time, I would have never known the terminology for the feelings I experienced. Some may just see the rejection. It was never that simple for me. My girlfriends would tell me, “well, maybe he has a preference.” The rejection was normal, they explained.

How could I explain to them, that preference purely on the basis of skin tone sounds a bit odd to me? And how is it that majority of people find the need to announce their dissatisfaction with those they do not prefer? And, why is it that that people are typically least satisfied with those of darker skin tone? Questions such as those swarmed my head repeatedly. I couldn’t swallow rejection well, especially based on something as simple as skin color.

Do I Make Them Feel Secure?

Fast forward to today. I am now 22 years-old and am still struggling with the same rejection while trying to distinguish a man’s ‘preference’ between society. The line between an individual’s preference and societal preference seems to blur often. My understanding of racial prejudice and sexual attraction grows as I do, and as I grow more knowledge of its origins.

I still struggle with men approaching me with negative racial stereotypes or automated rejections due to my skin color. What I have come to realize, also, with having multiracial friendships, is that they may feel safe being your friend. You are not going to take away attention from them, well, because you are only a black woman after all. Often times, nonblack girlfriends will place themselves in separate categories and create different scales of attraction between me and them.

Last week, I had a close friend tell me that she doesn’t feel threatened going out with me, but she feels threatened going out with another white woman. She exclaims, “men will have different preferences and it makes it easier for them when they can easily choose which one is their type.”

“Their type”

I cannot help but think that is just code for “you are not their type because you are black.” At the end of the day, I have never been automatically rejected on the basis of my figure, opinions, or specific physical characteristics (other than skin color). I find that ironic because my opinions would fairly be something to reject me based on!

Now, I am not sure if white women truly believe they are more beautiful, or simply take note of the negative attitudes majority of men have towards black women. Either way, they know that darker skinned women (particularly AA) may very well be the least desirable “kind” of a woman. Perhaps it is just an inference I drew based on experiences.

I am constantly working on understanding how social images of women like me are painted, constantly trying to undo the implicit hurt I experienced younger. We are all bullied, you might say. Absolutely correct. What I cannot understand, is why blackness is synonymous with bullying? Why should it ever be? As I continue to curb my social anxiety and step out into the world again, I know am not their type.

Totally fine.

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empath, highly sensitive person, Personal Blog, reflection

Friendships are difficult and downright draining when you are a ‘bleeding heart.’ people come your way for comfort, advice, insight, but often find it draining to be around someone who feels “too much” of everything. you are a vessel for others, as well as yourself, which keeps your mind and heart on edge, a day on end. your ability to feel cannot be shut off (until the day you transcend to a different place). you are the embodiment of empathy, and you spill your insides in hopes someone will look at the heap and be able to dissect it. they poke at all that is you and see one thing – pity.

These are people you have grown to know quite well, and you figure they would be able to understand where you are coming from (at least, to an extent). you begin spilling all kinds of beans, and you are slipping on them right in front of company. now, they know your business. they simply reply,

“I’m sorry!”

as if that is what you were looking for. As if you searched for anything, at all. You knew you were not searching for an apology or an automated reply out of pity. all you knew is that you hurt, everywhere. all the time. and you needed someone there. As more of these bodies come and go, you meet the same person dozens of times. your hurt heightens and subsidies, but never disappears. You begin to wonder how many others have the ability to see through different eyes. how many others place a hand on the heart without ever touching. many feel pity, some are compassionate, and rarely any are empathic.

With pity, comes an uneasy feeling. pity makes people feel a burden has been placed on them by making them uncomfortable. this is the response of “I feel for you.” pity is less connection, and far more shallow than that of compassion or empathy.

With compassion, comes the ability to care about others. people who will come help you if you call them without any understanding or questions – simply because they care. caring people are common, and they usually put a smile on your face during the toughest days when you are stuck in the worst of situations.

With empathy, you are able to place yourself in “uncomfortable” perspectives (through nature). you are able to sense emotions thoroughly and are usually able to understand your own extraordinarily well. these people are seen as heaven-sent or hell-bent due to their ability to hone in on expressing emotion. people who lose empathy are sponges and show compassion and understand. these people will never feel sorry for you.

Well? I am sorry, but – I suppose you need to hone your emotions and energies in again. Pull the gate back in. attract those who feel you, better, thoroughly, wholly.

SHE DOES NOT WANT YOUR SORRY

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confidence, self-reflection

The Age of the Selfie: Confident or Narcissistic?

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We are living in the age of selfies and carrying mantras of “love yourself” in our everyday lives. In the American culture today, we see growing value placed on self-esteem and maintaining this sense of self. We are constantly working on ourselves to become better than we were before – socially, financially, mentally, and emotionally. This is a positive thing. The way we feel about ourselves helps foreshadow how we will feel about those around us. It will also reveal how we plan on treating others as we make our journey through life. Self-esteem, in essence, gives the life of the soul and the desire to make improvements on internal/external images. Having a sense of self and a sense of worth are arguably two of the most essential things needed when sustaining life. It is just as important as needing to eat, sleep, and breathe. Without a sense of self, one may grow to question why there is even a “self” to begin with. The door for existentialist thinking can spiral into nihilist thought, thus turning into low hope and low self-esteem. Of course, thinking about life’s existence/importance objectively does not lead to low self-esteem directly, but it is interesting to notice any possible connections between questioning life and ending it. 

We build confidence and self-esteem through validation. When we complete something (well), we are typically rewarded intrinsically or extrinsically as children. Our caregivers either gave us a feeling of security and validation through praise or left us on our own. Not everyone has a stable foundation that encourages self-reflection and growth, leaving some to spend time searching for self-esteem or some completely neglecting its importance.

This extensive stress on improving self-esteem has worried many about whether vanity will prevail over genuine confidence, or whether high self-esteem will be slumped with narcissism. This begs the question: are you upholding the importance of the self, or are you showing narcissistic tendencies?

https://luckyottershaven.com/2015/02/15/why-is-narcissism-so-hot-these-days/

Stripping someone of feedback based on performance and replacing it with empty praise breeds vanity. Showering someone with compliments about aspects of themselves without emphasizing healthy/imperative self-reflection may convince someone that they are flawless. To be narcissistic means to seek gratification for one’s own attributes through being vain. It is giving a dog a bone for peeing on the carpet repeatedly. It is praising oneself when nothing has been done to seek praise. It is seeking and expecting attention/response from those around. The distinction between a confident, esteemed person and a narcissist can be difficult to find. With social media, status, standard, and physical appearance being important within (pop) culture, it is easy to fall amongst the users who have ever scrolled and thought “wow, who really needs to take a picture of everything they do and post about what they have accomplished?”

From first glance, this might look like a question that pokes fun at those who are “flexing for the gram,” but once you begin asking larger questions about why we post, the question turns into an inquiry about self-esteem and image. It begs the question of why we feel the need to share information about ourselves, how often, and who. Also, How many of us want to share ourselves constantly because we feel a need to be relevant? How many shares photoshopped selfies to get a follower count? How many of us grow insecure or upset when someone we have shared isn’t getting the attention and adoration we expected? How many of us feel we have to be the best and are the best, just cause? How many promote our self-image dishonestly and condemn those who do? How many of us are unconcerned with the success/happiness/well-being of others but are quick to cry out when nobody is there? The questions are endless, but the answers can seem impossible to pinpoint. Sometimes we feel that we are posting because we are content with who we are/what we do, regardless of the attention and/or gratification we receive. Sometimes were are proud of our work, progress, or improvement. Sometimes we post because we want someone else to notice who we are/what we do, regardless of what is being shown or vocalized. The latter can lead to developing narcissistic tendencies. 

Narcissism is detrimental because it blinds us from being able to see our flawed selves. It hinders us from being able to actively heightened our self-esteem and boost imagine in a way that is conducive to the esteem-building of others. Although being narcissistic comes with hyping yourself up (always), it does not always mean you lack the ability to empathize. Narcissists believe they can truly understand and “feel for others” because to do those things is to possess nobleness, this feeding into the ego once more. For example, a narcissistic person would say they would save you in a forest fire, but if that meant they had to lose all of their in order to save their life – you might just be out of luck.

Now, do not get me wrong – always practice building esteem, praising yourself for self-improvement, academic achievement, job promotions, weight loss, makeup tutorial, etc. Tell yourself you messed up when you flat out, messed up. Make changes when need be. I do not know you, but I assure you that you are not perfection, you are perfectly human. You deserve to care about yourself wholeheartedly and you deserve to be cared about by others; I can also assure you that you are, too.

If you can accept that humans have always been, and always will be, works in progress we can make some progress on becoming less narcissistic and more confident in who we are. As Mila Kunis put it, 

“Confidence, not cockiness. Knowing who you are is confidence. Cockiness is knowing who you are and pushing it down everyone’s throat.”

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self-reflection

LIFE WILL LOOK BEAUTIFUL, AGAIN

A very short message on dwelling in negativity and remembering beauty:

Sit down on your couch, beanbag, lawn chair, mattress, tile, floor, street and think about your life. Think about all that your life entails: the chaos, the wonder, the tribulation, the climbs, the leaps. Especially the leaps.

Wait – now, I was told to do this very same thing by a peer of mine at school. He said just think about your life and reflect in order to restore the aspects of your life you deemed beautiful. He urged me to dig deep in order to discover the hidden mystery of why my life looking a little estranged, distant, different, and frankly — hideous. Diving into some areas of life just isn’t possible when your mind does not allow you to enter those parts. Your mind will funnel destructive thoughts in as it packs bags for the compliments waiting to be rested upon you. Some nights I lay away wondering when the faint memories will rush from the back of my head into the front of my eyes so that I am able to confront that ugliness that has made its home here. On the nights that I am able to take a piece back with me to contemplate on, I am left in ruins wondering what ruined me. I wondered what had gone so wrong in my privileged life in order for me to ever witness such ugliness, so near and full of youth. Telling me to timely think about the past influenced me to fall into a victim mindset.

Eventually, I came to the conclusion:

“Reflection is good, but I need more than reflection. I need reform.”

So, for now embracing a different routine that allows me to think about my life in a positive, reflective way without getting lost in old photo albums and childhood nightmares. Looking back on past scars and being able to say, “yeah, that was pretty fucking tough. I thought I was going to die. I know I will not feel that way in that situation again” became a goal of mine. It is best that we look back at things for what they were and do not do too much contemplation and explication. Somethings cannot be thoroughly explained, and some things are not meant to be. In a way, seeing lapses of my childhood in fragment makes for a cinematic finish. Maybe one day I will sit and be able to write about the times I sat on my couch and reached some of those memories in a journal while drinking wine and rubbing my beautiful new Akita. Until then, I am left to remember this.

Do not worry yourself too much. Your life will be beautiful again, just in different ways.

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Uncategorized

“You can’t truly love someone if you do not first take the time to love yourself.” These phrases sound like canned commercials with the only chance of implementation lying with the practice of baking and bronzers, but love has no shimmery look.

I’ve tried wearing rose-colored glasses in the dark and it did nothing to shield me from what was to come. I remember – I was sixteen and in my first (what I thought was serious) relationship and nobody could tell me a damn thing about love. I knew all about love already, I had it all figured out on my own, and I knew who I wanted to give all my love to for the rest of my life. Well, I believed I knew what loves meant and what it meant to embody love.

I had bruises, a broken spirit, and a tender heart to show for it. I spent too many nights soaking pillows and throwing fists against walls to not know what love is. This energy I was investing in this relationship and on this person was inadvertently draining me and taking my attention from other important life goals. This must be love.

Because what else is all this destruction for? I fought off demons to maintain these feelings. I stabbed at old wounds to revive what existed between the two of us. Swinging moods and arms became routine when the family would ask me about my love. I would tell them, they just do not understand what it feels like to love so hard it hurts. They kept ensuring me that it was my own love I was looking for.  Sneering at anyone who dares say I am incapable of loving just because I don’t “actively practice” self-love, I found myself wanting to keep these feelings of love under wraps. I wanted to work on the love between him and me in silence since everyone was just so doubtful that this could be love.

It was love because I said it was love. Do not even think about interjecting your wisdom saying about seeking love in the wrong places – I have heard them before.

And finally, the silence was broken by cries from things others than love. Dishonesty, malice, hatred, uncertainty, jealousy, made themselves known just when I believed love encompassed them all.

Love was not hurt, but sometimes love hurts.
The time I spent loving him, was actual time spent hating myself. I don’t know how but my dislike for the way I was treated by him only highlighted the things I didn’t like about me. It wasn’t until I awakened in a room that wasn’t mine to recognize a face that wasn’t mine, and a spirit that wasn’t either. Who are you?

Years later, I am still learning the basics of dating myself. Taking myself out for ice cream on random nights, reading my favorite novel, crying my favorite cries. Putting makeup on simply to take photos and tell myself I’m hot shit.  Dancing in the mirror or in store aisles. Singing-off tune to r&b. Writing down my feelings for everyone to somehow feel but never read. Setting standards. Setting expectations. Setting curfews. Making trips, making moves. Kissing my wounds. Smiling at my own jokes. Shuttering at my own smile. Talking myself out of a black hole. Telling myself it will be okay. Placing ice packs on bruises. Putting gloves over sharp fist.

It is difficult transforming from an abuser of yourself to a lover. The hardest person to get along with and sustain a healthy, lasting love, is yourself. when love has a look, it will be me. 

YOU SHOULD GO AND LOVE YOURSELF

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blackhistory, Uncategorized

“THAT’S RACIST!”

If one can agree that chattel slavery existed (and still exists) around the world, you would think that one could agree that racism exists as well. Unfortunately, many people would like to believe that racism is simply an ideology that people made up in the 2000s to divert from some “real” problem, like the ending of the world, who wins the next Super Bowl, or animal cruelty. It is unfortunate that black people are still attempting to convince others of their situation – but here we are, still preaching about the injustices and mistreatment of our people. Because I am totally sick of reiterating myself to people who do not even know the basics of our lovely American history, here are five things to remember about racism:

Now, slavery has existed around the world since the beginnings of time in one way or another and began being considerably recognized during the rise of the Roman Empire. It was not until the discovering of the New World (or the “new world” for European eyes) 1492 by Christopher Columbus that chattel slavery became normalized across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and many discussions. He became the first white man since the Vikings to travel to unfamiliar lands. It has been proven that he did not discover the Americas, but he did bring awareness to all of his European buddies about the brown people living in San Salvador, Dominica, and Hispaniola. Columbus actually ended up carrying some of these brown people (against their will) to work as slaves, before knowing the legality of chattel slavery at the time. Prior to 1492, there had been slaves transported from Africa consistently to European countries, particularly Portugal (1441).

Slave Trade
Small visual of the slave trade that began in the late 1500s. Most slaves were not transported to North America, but to South America.

The sugar-slave complex (1452) is the birther of chattel slavery, and perhaps the complex that changed the world. Sugarcane was first planted and harvested in Madeira, Portugal and people went nuts. People could now have people work for free on plantations harvesting sugarcane. Since then, economics and race relations have never been the same. Even though other forms of unfree labor were familiar in Europe throughout its history, historians see chattel slavery differently because slaves are seen as commodities that are being bought and sold rather than them solely treated as servants doing work. Even further than this, chattel slavery being brought to brown countries with brown people gave way to the birthing of colorism.

Colorism is racism, too.

download-2.jpgColorism (which is the belief that lighter your complexion is the better), perpetuates racism. Colorism is a sub-category of racism, and is the “prejudice” aspect of what makes racism. It is the idea that having mixed children absolves prejudice and eliminates the possibility for socially ‘unattrimages-2active’ offspring. It is the idea that having lighter complexion gives you a softer look and even softer personality. It is the idea that having darker skin makes you dirtier, more likely to commit a crime, more rugged, less refined. It is hearing Kodak Black reiterate words about dark black women being “too gutter” or hearing the constant praise of mixed-race people. It is putting European phenotypes on a pedestal and forcing contouring kits down throats. The fetishization of mixed children is sometimes looked at as proof that implicit bias still exists. If you place racial bias in any setting where there is power, racism is created.

Having mixed children can not, and will not “fix” racism.

First of all, there is no real way to “fix” racism unless you are strengthening it since racism is a powerful construct. This means that racism is defined as ‘prejudice plus power,’ which could not possible by knocked down by mixing phenotypes and genotypes. The correct way to end racism is to completely decimate the source. In essence, the only way to destroy racism is to stop teaching it. The roots of slavery lie in the history of not only our nation but the world. Colorism was spread as quickly as produce across borders, and the repercussions are still seen today.  

Reverse racism does not exist

Remember,

Racism = power plus prejudice

Before you get ahead of yourself, think again “what does it mean to be racist?” well, based on the idea of racism as a power construct, a racist would be someone who promotes its power and each. Now, don’t get me wrong – racism is not only black and white – but I will say it is white, and whatever else isn’t white. Based on our good friend history, racism was not created until European travelers decided to sweep some brown nations and see what is up over there. Because that is when and how racism was created, I believe it is safe to say that white people (Europeans) created racism in order to control people and make an economic profit. You cannot be racist if you do not hold power, however, you can be prejudiced, bigoted, and biased if you are not white. If someone black discriminates against someone white because of their skin color, they are subjecting someone to prejudice but not racism. It is important to understand how racism works because it is the only way to know how to stop its impact.

Slavery birthed racism, and racism is still seen today

If you ever believed that everyone in this world was treated equally, you were not only optimistic – but perhaps naive. Battles fought, lives lost, words written, songs sung, etc. cannot be undone and each has their own place in the world. What occurs throughout history has a direct and indirect influence on how we view, and what we view in the world. Slavery reached its hand in history and gave way to Jim Crow Laws, redlining, and Tignon Law. If racism was a thing of the past as soon as one deemed it so, we would not continually see new cases where minorities had to fight for their rights. It is seen in cases like Dred Scott Decision (1857), Strauder v. West Virginia (l880), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Korematsu v. United States (1944), Sweatt v. Painter (1950), Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Levy v. Louisiana (1968). Other cases of justice and injustice based on racial struggle can be seen with a click of a mouse or keyboard. Although others stand in agreeance that America has yet to real racial equality, we have long ways to go.

African-Americans have been enslaved longer than they have been emancipated in this country, yet we are continually having the debate over whether the consequences of racism are still prevalent and/or detrimental. Most African-Americans (or black people in general) are only a couple generations from slavery. In fact, my great-grandmother is still alive and was a sharecropper in Mississippi. At the same time, families that used to own black slaves were able to build legacies, leave homes, and generate economic wealth. Matter of fact, this wealth is still being distributed and disbursed. 

You cannot “fix” racism because it must be destroyed not mended

The first step to dismantling racism, eliminating prejudice, and removing hate are to discuss history – literally. Read history and weep until it hurts, because people are still hurting from ignorance. If there is one thing that is sure, it is that ignorance is a breeding ground for control and compliance. 

Read up on American history, talk with people about their experiences, knowledge, and feelings, and most of all – work on yourself. Feed yourself knowledge. Here are a few articles I found pretty neat about the eerie history of our country:

“10 Eeerie Slave Hauntings of the Deep South”

“In Charleston, Coming to Terms With The Past” 

“Is There A Right Way To Put Slavery Onscreen?”

“Slave Stories”

Stay woke, everyone.

 



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blackhistory, Uncategorized

Black History Month: Should It Exist?

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Black History Month, held every February of each year, is known as a time to reflect, recognize, and show respect to the black Americans who have paved the way for other Americans to reach many social and economic milestones.

Black History Month: To be or not be? That is the question. Over the past decade, growing controversy has arisen over whether Black History Month is effective in its purpose of celebrating and spreading knowledge of many influential black figures in American History. When first asking others if Black History Month ought to exist, the typical response is “Absolutely!” When delving deeper into the purpose of Black History Month and why it was initially established, the answer becomes less obvious.

After being frustrated with the misrepresentation and underrepresentation of Black Americans in school after obtaining his Master’s degree and Ph.D., historian Dr. Carter G. Woodson coined a week in February as” Negro History Week.” He did so in the year of 1926 in order to honor the birthdays of civil rights activist, Frederick Douglass, and President Abraham Lincoln, who static1-squarespaceis often known as the leader who emancipated the black slaves. It wasn’t until 1976 that the week Woodson set aside would turn into a month-long celebration known as Black History Month. For decades since the adoption of the holiday, it has been recognized as a month for reflection and is also celebrated by Canada and the U.K. Now first – let me say that we have made immense progress over the past decades, with going from a one-week celebration to a whopping four weeks! But before we rejoice in the achievements, let’s look at Woodson’s reasoning for creating the week of acknowledgment once more.

trikosko-marchers-with-signs-at-the-march-on-washington-1963

Many are aware of the accomplishments of Frederick Douglass (thanks to the redundancy of primary and secondary education), yet many do not know the significance of Abraham Lincoln’s executive actions and how his intentions for change are far from heartwarming. President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, legally freeing around 3 million slaves in designated areas of the  South. While many rejoice at those numbers and idolize President Lincoln for being moral, caring, and understanding of the black experience in America, they are unaware of his intentions. As Philip Randolph expressed, “freedom is not given; it is won,” so why did Woodson base Black History Month’s precursor on a man who debatably “gave” black slaves freedom without honest intentions of bettering the lives of Black Americans? In fact, the  Emancipation Proclamation was signed as a military measure and did not free slaves on the border states like Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri (all of which had remained loyal to the Union).

In early schooling, Black History Month often focuses on civil rights leaders who are deemed less “threatening” and are able to be watered down to fit the idea of Black cooperation while remaining peaceful and complacent. James Baldwin says that “Education is indoctrination if you’re white; subjugation if you’re black.”This is not to say that leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and Frederick Douglass remained complacent because that would be far from the truth; all of them suffered physical, legal, and emotional repercussions. Although these leaders assisted in paving the way towards equality and equity, much of the dialogue from black America is missing. Textbooks will frequently provide MLK’s iconic and moving speeches, tell stories of Park’s courage to remain seated on the bus, explain the Underground Railroad, and mention Douglass’ journey from a slave to a free man; however, we are not taught of MLK’s internal battles with remaining peaceful, the woman who did not give up her seat prior to Parks, Tubman’s relentless attitude in the face of death, or Douglass’ many famous speeches or books. What is clearly missings from these teaching of famous black Americans are the details, which leads me to the main reason Black History Month should not exist: Black History is American History. 

“Black History is American History.”

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Black Americans have contributed to the upbringing and current hegemony of the country, yet school districts are still told to dedicate one month per year in educating students on their contributions (it is no wonder the racial tensions remain so high in the country, we never address history!) Perhaps if we taught history in accordance with chronological events (regardless of race/ethnic background), we would have a more accurate and inclusive view of history. Imagine all that we would learn through incorporating more about the Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, the Black Panthers, Angela Davis, W.E.B. Dubois, Sojourner Truth, Nina Simone, Booker T. Washington, Muhammad Ali, and many more years long! In theory, Negro History Week should be celebrated 52 times each year, and we should always be ready to celebrate.

As  James Baldwin once wrote,

“…any Negro who is born in this country and undergoes the American educational system runs the risk of becoming schizophrenic.  On the one hand, he is born in the shadow of the stars and stripes and he is assured it represents a nation which has never lost a war.  He pledges allegiance to that flag which guarantees “liberty and justice for all.”  He is part of a country in which anyone can become president, and so forth.  But on the other hand, he is also assured by his country and his countrymen that he has never contributed anything to civilization – that his past is nothing more than a record of humiliations gladly endured.  He is assumed by the republic that he, his father, his mother, and his ancestors were happy, shiftless, watermelon-eating darkies who loved Mr. Charlie and Miss Ann, that the value he has as a black man is proven by one thing only – his devotion to white people.  If you think I am exaggerating, examine the myths which proliferate in this country about Negroes.”

 

 

 

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