Today is the first of February and the start of Black History Month! To some it is African-American History month but to me it is African History Month and here’s why. Black people were brought to North America in 1619 as “indentured servants” and the United States of America was formed in 1776 making the so called “African-American” race approximately between 240 and 400 years old.
I am not going to accept some ridiculous notion that my history begins 400 years ago as a slave on the shores of North America, because to accept that notion would mean that even working for minimum wage at some fast food spot is seen as progress. And I believe that it the narrative some in this country want to promote so that we as black people are satisfied with less than any other racial or ethnic group is willing to accept for themselves. If my history begins 400 years ago on the shores of North America then I have no native tongue, no native religion, and we don’t even know our actual names. These are all things that were stripped from us including our dignity and sense of self-worth through an insidious, comprehensive, and systemic attack on our collective psyche.
There are valuable lessons and inspirational figures in our rich history that we know almost nothing about. And at this point in time when we have access to so much information our ignorance of Black History in all of it’s glory is something we have to take responsibility for and work to remedy. Why? Because we have got to be aware of our contributions to global civilization not just to the U.S.. We have got to see how great we once were and how we can be great again. We have got to study and learn from our past failures so that we do not continue to make the same mistakes again and again. And we need to learn more about our lost cultures and languages to help give us a greater sense of cultural pride so that we do not continue to be dependent on others for validation and our collective advancement.
The purpose of focusing on and learning more about our history is not about hating white people and pointing fingers, it’s about loving ourselves and working together to improve our communities so that we can work with other communities from equal positions to bridge divisions and ultimately become more united.
I endeavor to share at least one post daily on a topic of African History throughout this month’s 29 days to celebrate this month and in the hopes that I can inspire others to take this Black History seriously and use it not just as a gimmick to make ourselves feel better about inclusionary politics but to truly learn something, help educate each other and continue learning and teaching these important topics after February 29.