Let me start this post with a little bit of background. February is Black History month. This month, I am using the social pin board Pinterest to spotlight some people in black history who serve as personal inspiration to me. I would love it if my readers would follow my Inspirational African Americans board to see exactly who I have on my list. I will be updating it all month and I am sure I will continue in the future. These pins I also share daily on my Facebook timeline.
Now recently, due to the Black History Month postings I am doing on Facebook, I received a message there from a friend who is white. This person has known me for a long time and a person I consider a friend, even off of Facebook. :-) In the message they asked me, should my postings not be purely American history without having to classify it as black? Now, let me explain something to you for a minute. I have always told my friends who are of a different race, if you do not understand something as it relates to the black race, ask me. This does not mean that I am the authority of all things black, but I would rather you ask a person who is black, who you consider a friend, than just forming your own incorrect opinion or believing the stereotypes. This is the type of relationship that I have with my friends and to date, none of them have ever asked me anything I found offensive. As long as they listen with an open mind and understand that somethings they might not ever fully comprehend because they are not black, I am more than willing to give them my honest opinion to their questions. This is not meant to be a racist statement, it is just the truth. I will never understand how it is to be white and they will never fully understand what it is to be black. We understand this about each other and embrace our differences.
Now to get back to answering my friend’s question. Shouldn’t the black history facts that I have been posting be a part of history without classifying them as black. Absolutely yes they should! But, the reality of it is, many black people who have made several important contributions to society are not included in American history. Unless one takes an African American history class or two, names like Carter Woodson, Zora Neal Hurston and Ruby Dee are seldom ever known. These and many other black people have made major contributions to American culture but seldom ever make it to the pages of history books. However unfortunate this may seem, it is a reality. You can not help but think that race plays a part into why they are not more well known. These people serve as inspiration to other black people and have also paved the way for many to come after them. I do not have to go into a history lesson here. We all know the struggles that blacks have faced over the years. Knowing that even while meeting those obstacles head on, these people pursued their dreams and made their voices heard should serve as an inspiration to everyone…not just blacks.
As I get older, I think more and more about what Black History Month means to me and what I know now, is that it makes me who I am. My Pinterest board is a personal collection of people who look like me and through their works taught me that I can be whoever I want to be. They taught me that I am not defined by the color of my skin. They taught me that the black race is a unique collection of all sizes, shapes and colors. When I was teased for being too light, Lena Horne taught me that my black was beautiful. When I dreamed of playing in a symphony orchestra, Henry Lewis taught me that I could not only be in it, I could conduct it too. Maya Angelou taught me that I am a “Phenomenal Woman” and the music of Nina Simone has eased my soul. Black History Month is the time to give all of the great black Americans in our history their time to shine. This is why I have my pin board and share my pins to my Facebook friends. This is the time to let them know that their achievements and contributions did not go unnoticed. This is the time to say thank you!