I love Black History Month, not the white take on Black History, but the Blackity Black take on Black History Month. Why? Because we take everything and make it SO OVER THE TOP and I LOVE IT! But I have noticed people trying to discredit what is shown. My real question is why? Why do people who cannot relate or understand specific identities or cultures try to change the story?
When you ask someone who they are, believe them, but you must also believe what people also show you. We automatically try to make people into what we want them to be; we try to make people into versions of ourselves that complement or accentuate the parts of ourselves that need to be consistently validated or to uplift the face in which we show the world.
Working in education has shown how lots of people or organizations try to change the narratives of what is really happening to fit their beliefs. What I have gathered is that people are not listening in addition to not asking the hard questions. But this also includes that people are not open to change. Identities do not have to be rigid and set, and I think people need to know that they cannot choose how people decide to arrive and stay present in spaces.
I have seen and experienced differences amongst specified populations when it comes to minorities, but specifically Blacks. It can be intentional or unintentional when engaging in these spaces directly or indirectly. As a woman, it’s draining. But as a Black woman, it is draining and irritating, especially when you work in a field where people’s lives or at stake.
I have seen people, including my colleagues, discredit my students, but I’ve also had my students and colleagues discredit me. And while some may find this revelation disheartening, I say to you, this ain’t nothing new. I say this because I have been accustomed to discredit. It happens when a salesperson follows me around a store or if a parent discounts my abilities in the classroom. It happens when someone assumes my hair isn’t mine or that I have poor money management. It happens when someone assumes I have kids because of my demeanor or that enjoy watching Netflix and browsing social than a book.
I show up my authentic self everyday and still work on the parts that are not so great. I have a short patience and temper and a potty mouth when I’m with my friends. I enjoy jazz music to keep me calm and prefer to wear in a natural puff than straight. I like for my social media to truly be a place of happiness, discomfort and growth, while still leaning and learning what my purpose is. I don’t have a large group of friends, but I am extremely loyal to those who I have built strong bonds with. I enjoy my own company more than large groups because I like to decompress in my own ways. I like broccoli because I can eat it in any type of container and still eat applesauce as a midday snack. I enjoy CrossFit more than I thought because I constantly push myself past limits I have always had. I have dreams to be a business owner, continue my career in education and working for NCAA or NBA.
Discrediting comes in many forms and may even sprout to be extremely personal for people. Please don’t forget the slave owners that discredited Blacks and thought we were too dumb to advance life, technology and language. With only a few more days left and this month, I encourage you to take the next month to delve deep into Black History. That does not mean post an inspirational quote from MLK every day, but learn about a new African country or Afro-Latinx heritage because the more you know, the less you know.