Today I want to acknowledge black history month and what it means to me.
I had been so busy with the blog; writing and promoting my books as well as reviewing books that I had almost let the month slip away.
When I think of Black history I have a barrage of mixed emotions. First, its pride for all the sacrifices made for a Black woman like me to have such a joyfully encompassing freedom here in America. Next is sadness. There were so many horrible acts committed against the black culture that it is depressing to even think on it. I am also sad because well, prejudice and discrimination is still out there, ever present in our society and its heartbreaking. And last I feel disappointed, in myself, in the lack of structure and perseverance in this culture, in what we have taken for granted.
So bear with me as I fully disclose and explore these feelings. I hope to give you a greater understanding and insight into why I feel these mixed emotions.
As a black girl growing up, I had been blinded to color, race and ancestry. I had grown up in the melting pot of Brentwood, a very culturally diverse neighborhood on Long Island, NY. I didn’t see any of my friends as black, white, Spanish or Asian, they were just my friends.
My mother, bless her heart, has always told me that personalities make the people. She didn’t say “Krystal you are black” or “Krystal our people used to be slaves.” In fact I didn’t know there was a difference between myself and the people surrounding my life until I learned about slavery in elementary school. I remember sitting in my seat as we read our Social studies textbook and for the first time in my life, I realized I was different. I saw color, hair texture, eye color, and most importantly I saw shame.
I remember crying after I went home asking my family about our history. My mother was very instrumental in explaining to me that my roots, where I derive from, is America. Therefore I am American. Yes, I do know my family has Native American in our genes, we are black but who knows if our bloodline can be traced back to Africa, and somewhere in all that mixture we have Irish in us. That’s what I was told. But back then and even today I am American. My skin tone is Brown, well more like cinnamon, so there you have it. I am a Brown American.
It wasn’t until I had deemed myself less fragile to think about my history, that I was finally able to read about all the amazing things Black Culture has done. I mean who doesn’t know about Martin Luther King Jr., or Rosa Parks, or Malcolm X. Muhammad Ali, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes….I could go on and on. So once I was finally able to broach the subject, very lightly I might add, I discovered a world of potential, Pride and success. I was proud, even though I refuse to go back. I still have not watched Roots to this day. I have watched Rosewood, Queenie, and Red Tails, but that’s as racial as I can watch.
I am sad that this world is so culturally divided. I am a mother and I don’t see how I can explain to my children where they come from if I can’t even deal with the disgrace I feel when broaching this subject.
I am sad that even though we have come so far, we let hate, violence and color stimulated views distort our way of living. Not that I want to compare- but look at the Jewish Culture, this race survived a brutality against their people and they thrive daily. They work as a unit and are so constant in their purpose. But I feel, and some may argue, that the Black Culture has forgotten that we are still struggling. We may have won the war people, but we are losing the integrity of our cause.
I will say we took a large step towards progress with the appointment of Barack Obama to the presidential seat. And Michelle is one of the most active first ladies to hit the scene. But we still have so much work to do.
I am talking about - stop the drug pushing, gang violence, wife killing, baby snatching and molesting, living off of the government and blaming society for our problems- work to do.
We need to stop allowing stereotypes and statistics lead our culture. To me this is a great sadness and we can’t fault anyone but ourselves. Sometimes we let the word “no” or the phrase “I can’t”, get the best of us. And I think we have been so tired of fighting we may have let the towel slip.
I may be wrong, we have so many organizations, not only the NAACP, working for us, but we still have a long long way to go.
Remembering back to when I realized I was different, it had been from the shame of being a different color than what was perceived as the right color. It took me years to realize, I was different because of being me, my personality, my fashion sense, my insecurities to things that really didn’t matter.
We are all human; we have eyes to see, one nose, a mouth which we use to eat, speak, and smile. We have two ears to hear with, hands, feet and organs that allow us to live. The only difference in appearance is our body structure and skin tone. But hey, hating my skin pigment makes no sense really because we all have that too- pigment which is one of the main factors that decides the tone of the skin. So go ahead, hate my pigment, I however have learned to live with it, accept it and even embrace it. This would be my biggest disappointment if I couldn’t live with my own pigmentation.
So while I am still disappointed in the fact that we are still as a nation culturally divided, I will not let it affect me anymore. I have come to the conclusion that we are a flawed species.
Our species, humans, are imperfect by nature. We have a mind that works in mysterious ways. Our thoughts can be considered genius or defective. We have insecurities, hopes and dreams, wants and desires. We all have a way of life that we are comfortable with. There is a need for change and I am sure it will come. I wish it would happen right this moment, that equality as we were promised in the Constitution was more than a hollow promise. Trust me, in every rule there is an exception, this is made when people bend it to their purpose and not for others. Perfection is still but a dream to all. So I pray for the day when we can work together as Americans, not as a color coded entity.
For my part, I will live each day in celebration of being able to live freely. I will not forget the lessons of history but I will definitely not be the one to help repeat it. Instead as my piece to honor the people who paved the way for me, I strive to stay colorblind for this is the only way I know how to live. It is the only way I would want to.
And when the time comes for my own children to learn about their history, I will be sure to tell them, it is the character of a man or woman that defines who and what they are, not their skin. That we were born and raised as Americans; we live in a country where we are free. And our history is the story of how we came from a broken past and trekked on to a promising future. And it is only promised when we do well unto others no matter the culture they come from. This is the lesson we should have learned from the struggle of many races forced to live with racism as their background. Its what, and this is what I believe, they would have wanted for all of us.