Thursday, February 23, 2012

Black History Month

"Being able to love where you came from is the key to loving who you have become. I salute the men and women who came before me. I cannot say thank you enough, for that too wouldn't be enough. I walk your footprints, paved for me, guiding me to reach my destiny."keke chanel

We celebrate our ancestors this month, the ones who have paved the way for us during this designated time, embracing our strong heritage, yet overlook everyday people. It doesn’t really matter that it is the shortest month of the year because history should be celebrated all year round. Many people get angry of this fact, but do the same individuals even acknowledge our people when March 1st gets here? Do they even take part the entire month of February? Do they take the time out of their day and recognize a different person in history who made a difference besides the obvious? I give all due respect and appreciation to the women and men who fought, lost their lives before us so that our generation wouldn’t have to struggle as much, but what about Mr. Jackson, the teacher who cares enough about his students that he spends all of his spare time thinking of ways to help many of his students receive scholarships to college or send at least one with his own dollar? What about Kenya, the upcoming fashion designer who designs clothing so that our sons and daughters know that they don’t have to show too much skin to be beautiful or accepted in this cold world.  What about Mr. Baker down the street with his own business? Is he successful because of the support from his people or others who decide to do business within the neighborhood? Think about it for a minute. I mean truly reflect on the situation. Do you support local businesses, teachers, or any other person trying to leave their mark in the world? Sure without all the women and men before us we wouldn’t get the opportunity to showcase such individuals in our culture today, but do we really…truly know and understand all of the pain suffered many years ago?  I say many years ago but some of the same things our ancestors went through, still exists today. One would think that being a certain color or ethnic background didn’t play a huge part in getting recognition, securing a good job or being able to walk into a department store and not be followed around like a criminal. I know that a few apples fall along by the wayside, but should we all be judged from it? I often ask myself could I have been one of those individuals, and my answer is still the same. Not no, but hell no!

If this land we live on could talk, would it whisper the pain and suffering endured by our ancestors? If the wind could share stories from history, would it send chills up and down your spine revealing all the hatred taught generation after generation, to dislike someone because of the way they look? Would the tree limbs shed tears from all the beatings and hangings it witnessed? Would the rain wash away secret tortures, unconquered fears and all the families torn apart, sold into slavery at the auction block? Would the soil used to plant and harvest perfect crops tell about all the blood and sweat used to make sure the people in the “big house” got a chance to live a life of luxury? Would we be able to listen closely and hear the sound of Harriet, Sojourner, Fredrick, Malcolm, Martin and countless numbers of others fight for freedom and equal rights? If all of those significant things reigned true, our race of people wouldn’t find itself still struggling or blaming others for misfortune. There wouldn’t be so many beautiful, strong men of color behind prison walls or with the mentality that someone owes them something. There wouldn’t be as many single mother’s because men would know just how hard his great-uncle, grandfather, cousin fought to keep his family together. Women wouldn’t have to prostitute themselves, thinking that she isn’t worthy of finding real love without giving up her precious treasure. If we all took the time out to really understand and know that our heritage is way more than just twenty-eight, sometimes twenty-nine days of the year, there could be no more excuses.

Start now! Start with today. Be an example of which your children will look up to, admire, love, respect and strive to become better than some day. Teach them our history but don’t allow them to neglect all the deserving men and women living in today, who work hard and are successful. These too are people who play a huge part in our history, heritage and culture. Show them that although February is called “Black History Month”, we exist 365 days not just during that window of reflection. Show them that having color to our skin isn’t disgusting, wrong or shameful. Teach them to love and embrace being who they are. Most importantly, teach them to love everyone, not just people who look and act like they do. The world is a great place of opportunity, reward, success but no one is going to hand it to them. Through hard work, determination and dedication, nothing is impossible. Yes, there will be some who just refuse to let go of hatred, ignorance or prejudice, but show and mold it into them that the only person capable of standing in their way is them. I didn’t think I would live during the time that we would have a black President, but here we are. I wasn’t being close-minded. I just thought that it wouldn’t happen in my lifetime. Teach your children to elect or standby the best person for the job, not because of the color of his/her skin. There are always wolves in sheep’s clothing. Being a good judge of character, taking someone by their word and relying on intuition will never lead them down the wrong path. I am a firm believer in God, so prayer is always the answer to any situation if you ask me.

So, don’t just remain focused merely on the ones who came before us, let their significance in history inspire us to inspire the people who surround us daily. Acknowledge the everyday people, the ones who work among us, live next door to us or simply love doing what they do. Encourage instead of tear down. Uplift instead of put down on. Motivate instead of neglect. If we do more of this, greater things would happen to us. We are losing great people every day. It’s sad, but something we all must face. We never expect to live without having these individuals as a part of life. It hurts. But with each legend, icon, star, loved one we lose, let their impact on your life be that same, if not more of an impact to someone else’s. Don’t let someone’s ethnic background, gender, sexual preference, job title, religious belief or any other difference influence your opinion to treat them anything less than a person. We are all relevant. Believe in yourself and also believe in others. Have compassion, love, acceptance and appreciation for everyone, no matter what or how they see fit to live their lives. It’s not our place to judge or speak negatively about someone. And if you find yourself in a predicament where you are about to, think about it long and hard. Would you want someone to do that same thing to you? Treat people the way you want to be treated. Remember all the struggles the people before you endured and then ask, “What makes you any different from them?” Enjoy the remainder of our month but don’t just stop when spring arrives. Celebrate our culture and heritage each day to help someone else along his/her journey. No one can live in this world alone, don’t try to! It’s the circle of life and one day, in the near future, life as we know it, will seize to exist!

Before the end of the month, do a little bit of research. Learn about someone in our history you never knew about. Share that information with someone else. Knowledge is power and education is essentially the key to achieving success. “Spread love, one love, let’s get together and feel alright!” I love the lyrics to that particular song. Very insightful, positive and assuring that if we all can come together, everything will be okay. How many of you truly believe that? Take pride in being who you are and where you came from! Until next time, be inspired, be encouraged and be you!

Keke Chanel

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