The Amazing Power of Black History
I am writing about Black History after February on purpose here.
I am so glad we have a month to celebrate Black Bodies, Minds, Beauty, and Ways of Being.
And I also have such sadness and frustration about all the limits we place on Black History in our country.
White people know they have to keep black history in it's place or they (we) know we will have to change. In that silencing, white people acknowledge the power in Black Voices. There are so many ways for the confining and compartmentalizing of black history. White people enact a paternalistic narcissistic belittling - the "there, there - you have your month to celebrate. Don't complain." They often give lip service to great black leaders while denying their philosophies and calls for radical inclusion and self-determination. Black History Month can even be an additional burden to Black Americans rather than space to celebrate. I really liked this article by Cole Arthur Riley about the impact of Black History Month. Is is really for Black Americans, or is it to soothe white conscience?
There is a concerted effort to censor black history out of the rest of our lives. I have given myself a whole new education from black queer feminist leaders who have radically healing ways of approaching our world because it was censored out of my life as a child. And there is a current effort by someone aspiring to the presidency of our country and currently leading my state to censor even more. To eradicate anything that isn’t exalting white supremacy norms.
There is somehow a misconstrued idea that if white people examine their colonizing history and brutal slavery, they (we) will be overcome with shame and won’t be able to handle it. And that white people’s psyche’s and their systems are both so rigid and fragile that they can’t handle the truth and change. When in reality the only way to have true mental, emotional and bodily health is to face reality and make our world a more equitable and just place.
As a result, once again people of color are told that they are equal while being handed the shame of a reality that excludes, others, and belittles them. If you want to fight for healing of black shame and trauma, I highly recommend the books You Are Your Best Thing by Tarana Burke and Brené Brown, and This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories that Make Us by Cole Arthur Riley.
I am so thankful for the Black Leaders, Thinkers, Activists, and everyday people who are teaching me how to re-examine what I value. How to envision a new, better way to live, one that is inclusive and empowering. One that knows I am not the one empowering, but the one who can step aside and appreciate the brilliance and power and beauty of blackness.
The very soul of our country and civilization depend not on measuring white "wokeness" but on stepping aside and amplifying the Black History that has been and is currently in the making.
* I really liked this article as well: It highlights a white man who had thought, as an evangelical pastor, that his primary challenges were rising secularization or late-stage capitalism. But he realized that “the real missionary challenge to Christianity in America is the way we have materially instantiated a white supremacist social order.” He adds: “It was as clear as it could have been to me. And I knew that my life was going to change.” I feel the same way. I will never be the same and I am better for it. If we all educate ourselves about Black History, Self-Determination, Beauty, and Goodness, our world will be a very different, much better place.
* If you want some additional, practical steps to take to fight racism, check out Road Map for Revolutionaries.