BHM February 23, 2019 – Posted in: African Culture, African-American Culture, Culture, In the Community – Tags: , , , , ,

February is the month of many many things including the infamous valentine’s day, 28 days of more time to be cold in wait for spring to begin the following month, at least on the east coast. In America, February is also referred to as black history month. Without understanding America’s education system and race relations, it’s easy to misunderstand the purpose of such a thing; including a misunderstanding of things like all black schools, historically black colleges/universities, and all black casts/crews in media including the nuanced telling of black narratives. Without context it might appear that the black American community is a little vain. But in reality there is a need for empowerment in our community. When people that look like you from a century ago were not considered to be a full person, just 3/5th of a man, and it was illegal for such persons to read and write, creating our own spaces to exist, thrive and compete with our caucasian American counterparts is important. When the odds are stacked against you into oppression, you must rise to the occasion and revel in the world that those who came before you fought to make possible.

Spaces like the African American Smithsonian represent the vast collective experiences to celebrate and reflect on for all the strife, progress and contributions our community attributes to American culture as a whole.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture, the NMAAHC, is the first African American Smithsonian museum in the nation’s capital. It first opened in September of 2016 and is quite the marvel. They instituted a ticketing system to enforce crowd control because it is a high demand destination. It is also a place all Americans and people in general should go to better understand the black american experience. The tickets are free, you just have to secure them online before they’re all gone and from about the middle of 2018, you no longer need a ticket to visit during the week after 1pm. This museum is free, and is worth several trips. The whole reason why I am speaking about it is because it encapsulates the magic of how if you are black in America, anything you do can become history and you might be able to find yourself in such a museum one day.

Actor, Nick Ashe wears the PIO Power to the People Sweatshirt during the filming of the PBS Series, Afro Pop

This black history month, I challenge you to discover something about someone in African American history that you weren’t told about in school or that you aren’t very knowledgeable about. We all are familiar with MLK Jr, Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X which is great because they were prolific. BUT there are so many more amazing people that contributed and continue to contribute to the resilient history of this country and the culture that you can’t stop at the most famous ones. This month is an excellent opportunity to explore and or re-discover truths of black excellence that you might not hear about everyday. In the age of information, there is no reason to not know, google is friendly and vast. One person I want to learn more about is James Baldwin, he had an exceptional mind/perspective and learning more about him and his work has the capacity to contribute to my life in ways that make his work timeless, something to be proud of and furthermore inspiring.

So this black history month, use this time to start the conversation or the action to learn more about the great contributions and diversity of skills our community has and continues to contribute. May this start lead you to continue your journey for more information throughout the year. Don’t let this month of recognition be the beginning and end to such discoveries. Let the month live on throughout the year and your life, especially if you are African American. It is part of your heritage, indirectly or directly, it plays a role in your history and shapes the experiences you have and the ones you might seek to evolve. You really must know where you came from to know where you are going. Without that you can’t discern how to keep the future moving forward instead of repeating history.

Stay empowered and informed.