Last year around this time I had already got Maturing Mama going. I remember every day within the month of December sitting on pins and needles as I debated on whether or not I would actually write a piece about black history. To be honest, it terrified me.
I’m one of those blacks that know for a fact my ancestors were slaves. My family are from Trinidad. This island was taken over by Spaniards who brought slaves from Africa with them. My ancestors worked in the sugar cane fields as slaves.
I guess the question would be, do I not take pride in my family’s past? I truly am proud of my ancestors for staying strong within this time period. I’m proud of their survival on a long boat ride with thousands of slaves crammed into a small space. I’m proud of them staying strong though they worked tirelessly with scraps to eat and very little sleep. I’m proud that we survived!
I suppose my conflict is that I don’t want to take this time to highlight my people’s trials as if to get pity or to put down the races that took my people as slaves.
The one thing I’ve noticed about Black History Month since celebrating it every year of my life, is that it’s easy to spend the month guilting these races that hurt us. It’s easy to speak in a way that makes my Caucasian husband feel ashamed of being white.
So every year I question my motives in celebrating Black History Month. What is the effect I want to have on my family and on friends that learn of our torturous history?
I know for a fact that many Caucasians see our month of celebration as silly and not worth highlighting. Why dwell on the past and throw a pity party?
Truly our month of celebration is a month of honoring the millions of black slaves that fought in this battle called slavery. The same way Nations honor war veterans that fought for their countries.
My slave ancestors fought to stay alive, fought to maintain their faith in God and overall fought to bring freedom to my generation! What a victory! So many died from being tortured, beaten, raped and simply because they were black.
The youngest boy to ever get the death penalty was a little black boy that was unjustly accused, George Junius Stinney, Jr.
I hate talking about such injustice that happened because our people were slaves. And would you believe the reason we were slaves? It was because we were the only race strong enough to survive working long hours in poor conditions. The only race that was capable of surviving long hours of travel in a boat where many of us died, but few enough that the trip was worth it.
These were our soldiers. Men, women and children. And we cannot hide our history. The color of our skin shines for all to see as a mark of our past as slaves. We don’t have to wear a badge or carry a flag. We walk into a room and everyone knows of our past.
I could end there but there’s one thing on my heart I truly have needed to get out to the public but never had the opportune moment.
First, to every black person living in a mixed race country:
Don’t be that person that insults our ancestors’ fight by putting down other races the same way we were put down.
Don’t be that person that makes fun of our ancestors’ torture and humiliation by calling others “Nigger”. Or even using it in song.
To every white person (none black in general) that has a love for black people and culture:
Respect us! If you walk with a swag, speak broken English, wear clothing that’s too big or too tight, dance hip hop, listen to rap and then have the audacity to approach a black person and utter the words, “I’m blacker than you!”- You have just insulted the years we have tried to make a good name for ourselves.
You have just insulted every black person that worked hard in school, graduated and fought against every moment of injustice to make a better life for the next black generation. How dare you associate yourself with our suffering and then insult us by yelling the word “Nigger” and insisting it means you’re just like us. You are infact making the world harder for us.
Should you desire to show pride in our culture and history, educate yourself on our past. Educate yourself on our current achievements and set backs. Support us by accepting our habits of speaking loudly and don’t make us feel embarrassed for sounding different, looking different or having different ideas. We have enough to deal with when we walk into the room as the only black person.
Happy Black History Month everyone!