Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Black History Month
What do most of us think about when February comes around? Frilly heart cards, roses, dinner with that special someone, chocolate that we really don't need, phrases like kiss me" and "be mine" or maybe if we are lucky, breakfast in bed; these could possibly be some of our thoughts that surround the month of February, the Month of Valentine's Day. For me, this month has become a very special month! Not only do I get to celebrate the birth of my sweet little Juwan, but I get to remember a part of America's history that is often neglected.
The month of February is black history month. It is a month set aside to celebrate African Americans. It is a time to remember the harsh realities of slavery and Jim Crow. A time to recognize the amazing African Americans who fought against the atrocities forced upon them. A time set aside to remember how they rose up and forced this nation to recognize its failure and fault! Yet, it is not only about slavery. It is a celebration of many African Americans who have accomplished great things in science, art, music, heroic deeds and sports to name only a few. Many of these individuals are not taught about in our history books and were never recognized by the masses for their contributions to this nation. Some were recognized in some small way, but more often than not decades after the fact. This is also a time to reflect on how this black narrative affects our country, our states, our cities, our families and our own hearts today. Now, I know some people will say why is there a whole month dedicated to only one people group? I would counter argue, why is their story not part of our collective history in the first place? Why is it so conspicuously missing from our history books? This is why black history month exists. I have not always been aware of black history month. An even sadder statement might be that I did not grow up knowing much about the history of African Americans or about racism in the United States.
Growing up in a small suburb where there were few minorities, I was very much unaware of what diversity lay just over the lake. My first real experience with what race meant and how it affects people's lives very differently, occurred when my sister moved to Decatur. There she had black friends and then gave birth to my beautiful niece who is mixed. It was then I began to see and understand the role of race in this culture, but only in a small part. Now, I'm in my late thirties, have traveled and lived overseas, have lived in neighborhoods that some people might never venture in to, have married, I have birthed 3 children, adopted two and fostered others and this idea of race and what it means in our country has come to mean so much more!
Black history month has allowed me to really focus for a month on the African American side of our history, not simply for knowledge sake, but more importantly to to make sure my kids know the worth of every human being! I want my Adopted children to know that they have a rich history. That they come from a people that are strong, courageous and talented. I want all my children to learn from the horrible mistakes that were made during slavery and Jim Crow. I want them to learn that we all have our own prejudices and we need to recognize them and not allow them to govern our actions. I want them to know that racism and prejudices are not qualities that God intended His people to have.
So, in honor of Black history month, my children took some time to learn many things. We will attempt to share some of what we have learned, with you on this blog. I know that the month of February has past, but after all this part of our history doesn't have to be confined to one month. Sit back and enjoy and maybe, February will metamorphosis into a whole new month for you too! Courage, triumph, racism, peace, unjust, slavery, emancipation, inventors, jazz, blues, skat, and hope: Maybe now these will be a few of the words that come to mind when you think of the month of February.