This past February was one of the first times, in a long time, where I was in tune with what I have always treasured about this month. I witnessed a lot of different companies, social media platforms, some of my social media friends, and my own personal experiences recognizing the richness of this past February.
When I was a little girl at Oakland Elementary School in Denver, Colorado, my love and adoration for Black history began in the month of February- also recognized as Black History Month! It was the one time of the year where I was being intentionally taught about MY history, heritage, and culture! It was the one time of year in school (from elementary school to high school) where I saw myself in the history lessons I was being taught. The many Februaries I sat in school and learned about Black history gave me enough fuel to my fire, to continue my love for knowledge in college- where I minored in African American studies!
[Click here to watch a performative piece- titled “#BlackHairMatters”- I did for one of my classes!]
My mother and grandmother played a significant role in my love for Black heritage, history, and culture. For Black History Month, we were the type of Black family who watched “Roots”(the original and the remake!), “Selma Lord Selma” (with Jurnee Smollett), and the 1999 animated film “Our Friend Martin” (which you can watch on YouTube-thank me later!), amongst other movies!
My mom loves history and she passed down that same passion to me. I remember going to the public library in Montbello (a suburb of Denver, that we lived in), and my mom would rent all kinds of history books and share with me what she learned. She was always my first teacher. My grandma is from the Black Liberation generation- so she instilled in me pride for our people. She shared her stories with me of what it was like growing up in Denver, Colorado during the late 50s and early 60s. She told me about a time when Denver was the headquarters for the Ku Klux Klan. She told me that she remembered when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed, and her teachers canceled class for the rest of the day. She said she remembered how the authorities were after her cousin Lauren Watson- who was the founder of Denver’s Black Panthers Party[I found a very interesting article that details “Civil Rights Resistance in the Mile High City”]. These stories I have been given and the passion instilled in me, I will carry with me for the rest of my life, and someday I will pass down this passion and pride to my daughter.
One thing that I love about Black History Month is the recognition! History, stereotypes, and narratives that surround what it means to be Black in America can leave a bittersweet taste in one’s mouth. However, Black History Month allows for intentional recognition of the sweeter side of Black history and recognition of the influential men and women and their accomplishments. This month also allows for recognition of the heritage and culture of Black people- from the way Black hair is always evolving, to how hip hop is Black people’s greatest export into the world.
I also love the different ways that Black History Month is celebrated at church, school, and in the community!
I remember growing up, my church always had a Black History month program. The church that I attend now- One Community Church- recognized Black History Month through an awesome praise dance!
I have the privilege of working for an after school program for elementary school students (they’re my babies❤️)! I have a lot of liberties to implement special activities and/or events into our program. So, when the month of February came around, I knew I had to jump at the opportunity to have a “Black History Day” for our program! We had coloring sheets of Madam CJ Walker and Lewis Howard Latimer for the younger students and Black History BINGO for the older students. There was a Kente cloth station, where students could learn the meaning of the colors and create their own Kente cloth, and there were games where students could learn about influential Black athletes and musicians! Whew! Talk about a busy day! On top of all of this, we also had an AMAZING guest speaker who taught us about 10 everyday household items that were invented by a Black man or woman- which included the refrigerator, the guitar, the bicycle frame, the mop, the dryer for your clothes, and the lawn mower.
Another way I found myself personally celebrating this month was by SUPPORTING BLACK OWNED BUSINESSES! Supporting Black businesses is so important because of the history of not being allowed to read or write during slavery, to not being able to walk into certain businesses half a century later. Now, a Black man or woman owning their own business is not completely unusual (although Black people are still behind when it comes to the statistics of who owns a business). Nevertheless, we must not forget what it took for Black men and women to own their own business. Black businesses also matter because representation matters, and there is a persuasive argument on why Black people should return their hard-earned dollars back to Black businesses (feel free to Google that one!).
I recently discovered the wonderful world of shopping through Etsy.com and I stumbled upon this shop -Gabe Jade. I was mesmerized by all the beautiful headwraps and kept browsing until I found this one. My favorite color is purple, so this one instantly spoke to me! It was definitely worth the coin, and I can’t wait to dress it up and down.
Another black-owned shop that I found on Etsy. I saw the tote bag, and instantly thought, “this is too good to be true! This kente cloth bag for only $15.00!!!” But it was true, I bought it, and I love it 😄!!! They shipped my purchase to me very quickly, and they also sent me an extra gye nyame bandana!
I was on Instagram (follow @tqpxtpq!) when I saw one of those sponsored advertisement posts, featuring a shop selling phone cases. But not just any phone cases, these cases were all about that #BlackGirlMagic! I am a firm believer in the importance of representation, and wanting to buy products that reflect me! Well, The Closet has just that- from phone cases to apparel, swimwear, and more! Check them out!
If I was a rapper from Chicago who had a way with words, I would be Noname! She is so incredibly talented, humble, and personable. I recently had the privilege to see her in concert when she came to Dallas! She came on stage in a real chill and relaxed way, and just did her thing!! [Her opening act Elton Aura was great too!] It takes guts to be as transparent as she is with her music (or any form of art), and for that, I feel that she is an artist everyone should give a listen to. Also, SUPPORT GOOD MUSIC AND ARTISTS!
[If the video does not work, please click here to check out how I made my Vision Board! YouTube is working to fix this problem 🙃.]
Black History Month…
The running joke of Black History Month has always been that the month of February was chosen because it is the shortest month of the year. February is actually Black History Month because Abraham Lincoln’s birthday and Frederick Douglas’ birthday are both in the month of February. Delegating an entire complex and highly influential chunk of history to one month is problematic. Because the deeper you dig into Black history, the deeper you realize how “American” Black history is. Black Americans have been an influential part of American history- from slavery and the free labor that built America’s railroads, monuments, and including the White House, to setting the bar higher and higher in music and in the arts, to the advancements in science, technology, innovation, and invention, to Black influential leaders whose activism and courageousness have changed the trajectory of this nation.
Black history should not be deemed as a side dish on a plate of food, and Eurocentric history as the meat. If I ruled the world (*cues Lauryn Hill*) I would change the American history curriculum to include an increase in the information of Black history throughout history, in history classes from kindergarten to 12th grade. So that way Black children won’t feel the need to only visit their history once a year, and feel they are recognized once a year, and be able to identify themselves once a year. The same way that Black History is woven into the fabric of this red, white, and blue nation, is the same way that Black history should be woven into history textbooks across America.
I wanted to create a collage for Black History month because I was so inspired by seeing some of my melanated social media friends express their pride in Black History month! [I realize that I uploaded my video to YouTube and published this post past February, but I have found that to be the irony of this post.]
There are so many prolific Black men and women who have contributed to America’s history. As much as I love learning about Fredrick (Douglas) and Moses (a.k.a. Harriet Tubman), I would also love if all of the hundreds of other historical Black people could get recognition like James Baldwin, Angela Davis, Spike Lee, and Tracee Ellis Ross, to name a few. For this collage, I wanted to add some elements of the classic Black Historic figures-like MLK, Malcolm X, and Madam CJ Walker. But I also wanted to add historical references that are more recent like honoring Trayvon Martin, our forever president Barack Obama, and Issa Rae’s timeless statement, “I’m rooting for everybody Black”! There is so much resiliency, strength, dignity, innovation, and greatness to being Black. Our culture and our history must go beyond 28 days a year.
However I forgot how quick 28 days can come and go, and now I have found myself running on CP time (we have to be able to reappropriate some things 🙃- and if you don’t know what that means, or are not a part of the same ethnic group as me, then feel free to NOT use it) with publishing this post. Nevertheless, I wanted to share my inspiration, my experiences this month, and two cents about this past February with you.
In all seriousness, I don’t take for granted the lineage and the legacy that I am blessed to be a part of! When I think about the lived experiences of Black Americans in this country alone, it humbles me so much. Because I very well could have not been here to tell you this story.
If my great great great great great great great great grandmother didn’t survive coming to America,
and my great great great great great great great grandfather didn’t make it through slavery,
and my great great great great great great grandmother didn’t live to see Freedom through the emancipation,
and my great great great great great grandfather didn’t survive injustice around every corner,
and if my great great great great grandmother didn’t make it past the unjustified lynching of Black men, women, and children,
and great great great grandmother didn’t make it through the Jim Crow laws plaguing the nation,
and my great great grandmother didn’t persevere through the fight against segregation, discrimination, and police brutality,
and my great grandmother didn’t make it through the harsh realities of being Black in America,
and my grandmother didn’t make it through the harsh realities of being Black in America,
and my mother didn’t make it through the harsh realities of being Black in America,
then I wouldn’t be here,
and glory is to God that I am still here.
I am my ancestors wildest dream, and I am living off of some of my great grandmothers and great grandfathers prayers.