Every year as February starts and Black History Month commences for the US, those who identify as Black/African-American feel like it’s 28 days of preaching to the choir.
We already know how fly we are.
Nevertheless, this month, which was initially introduced as Negro History Week in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, stands as an important reminder of who we are and where we came from. But, most importantly a reminder for those outside of our culture who have had a significant impact in our history.
History. That word holds an immeasurable amount of meaning because you can’t erase it. You can’t add a filter to it. And as much as the publishing company, McGraw-Hill tried to rewrite it (ie: calling slaves voluntary “workers”), the facts of the past are permanent.
We have read a number of articles and memes that call for White people to rise up during Black History Month by doing a number of things: listening empathetically to Black people and their past and current struggles, buying from Black-owned businesses, researching the Black Lives Matter movement and its significance, reading books from Black authors and so on. These are all important ways for White people to embrace and give back to the black community.
But, that’s not the single most important thing that White people can do.
You see, doing all of the above is like treating the symptom. It’s not addressing root cause.
In order for White people to truly become convicted allies, they must first understand and digest the impact of their own history. It’s not enough to sympathize with Black people. Speaking to White people, you’ve got to know WHY. To know why, you’ve got to know what the history of YOUR OWN PEOPLE has done. Beyond the watered down version your history class spent 5 seconds on. Not the version that depicts your ancestors as White saviors.
You’ve got to work backwards to trace where it all started. How EVERYBODY started on the continent of Africa. EVERYBODY. Making Africa the birthplace of humanity and the cradle of civilization. How Africa was advanced and flourishing, participating in economic trade with other nations before the 1500s. How there were several functioning societies and royalty. How it was the richness of Africa, particularly West Africa and its gold that started the invasion of West Africa by Europeans. How white supremacy has hijacked the truth for centuries. Only in doing a deep dive into history will you truly know the implications of your ancestor’s actions. You’ll then understand deeply why Black Lives Matter. Why there is a cycle of poverty in the Black community. Why black men have the highest incarceration rate. Why Black people think they have to work twice as hard than their White counterparts. Why drugs are a problem in the Black community. Why gangs were formulated. Why big business ownership is disproportionate to our White counterparts.
You’ll then know why.
When you are kidnapped, taken away from your culture and all you know, packed in a vessel for 4-6 weeks enduring the harshest conditions, witnessing your people (millions) die on the way, being treated as inferior as your bargained for on the streets of Charleston, South Carolina, beaten for days, thrown into intense labor in the blistering hot sun, restricted from reading and writing, raped, longing for when you get to go home - back to the Motherland, restricted from ownership, credit taken for your work, drugs introduced into your neighborhoods to purposely kill you off, arrested only for the real purpose of advancing the economy through hard labor in jail you’ve got to wonder how you would turn out.
When you embark on learning the truth about your history, from that moment forward, question HOW. How could this happen? Question why white privilege is a thing. Question why racism even exists. As you question those things moving from silence to activism, educate your people until one day they are all fully aware of why Black people are so steadfast on exposing the truth and claiming their rightful seat at the table.
Black people...AFRICANS are pretty damn resilient, huh?