“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
We are in the month of February. A month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, which means all hearts are focused on love…typically romantic love. But…it is also the month that has been set aside as Black History month. A time when we can look at history and see all the advances and accomplishments given to our world by the creativity, inventiveness, and innovations from our brothers and sisters of color. It is a time when we can begin to tell a more honest narrative of history that is inclusive of the advancements given by all people and not the skewed narrative we are taught in school.
You see we tend to teach history from the vantage point of the victor. This is not new. The Egyptians did this millennia ago. They wrote their history as if they never lost a single battle or war. They were always and consistently the victors. But when archaeologists began to unearth secrets long buried in the sands of Egypt and other countries, they began to discover a more complete narrative of history. The story that unfolded as we all know, is that Egypt did indeed lose battles and wars. If they hadn’t, I would think they would still be a great power today. More so than what they currently are.
Even when we go back and begin reading autobiographies and biographies of our founding fathers, we discover revisions. George Washington, in his later years began to go through his copious writings and rewrote/edited areas where he thought he did not come across as good or as compassionate or whatever and he wanted a different portrait to emerge of who he was for future generations. The problem with that is both Jefferson, and Addams were also copious writers and they also kept all their correspondence and when we compare….well…the truth emerges.
It is why I am so opposed to historical revisions when we write our histories to show one side of the story or when we show only the good about what a person, group, or nation has accomplished. So, I am grateful for the wisdom of setting aside a month where we can begin to level the playing field, so to speak, and showcase the accomplishments of people who have endured slavery, oppression, and discrimination.
The amazing thing is that even with all the obstacles our brothers and sisters of color encountered, they still managed to let their creativity shine through the gifts and talents God gave them. They used them to better the lives of all people. Many of their inventions go untaught and yet they have improved the lives of many throughout the years. Mary Van Brittan Brown who co-invented the home security system in 1966 or Garrett Morgan who invented the three-light traffic light in 1923 and still in use today. McKinley Jones who in 1940 invented refrigerated trucks and there are of course countless others.
Then there is their contribution to the arts and entertainment industry with the likes of Billie Holliday, Louis Armstrong, Maya Angelou, or Denzel Washington and who hasn’t enjoyed a movie Denzel has acted in? And of course, there are many more. Just as there are many who have advanced the cause of equality that has impacted not only the African American community but has impacted the lives of women. I remember even in the 1980’s that women still needed to have their husband or other male relative cosign on a loan. I remember because my mom tried to get a loan and was refused if Dad didn’t co-sign…after my mom shared a piece of her mind with the bank manager, he gave her the loan. But she shouldn’t have had to go through that to begin with. Just as our brothers and sisters of color shouldn’t have to fight for their accomplishments to be recognized and valued.
February is a month when we can begin to change the narrative of our history. Where we can begin to tell the entire story. All the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of how we, as a nation, have grown and where we still need to grow-up. I hope you will take time to learn about people of color and the many contributions they have made to our world and how we benefit from them every day.
To all my brothers and sister of color, I say thank you. Thank you for your creativity, your inventiveness, and your innovation. Thank you for persevering through the worst of times. Thank you for not letting bitterness crush your spirits. Thank you for being tenacious as you continue to strive for equality and recognition. Thank you and when ever you see me falling into a culturally acceptable micro aggression that discriminates against anyone…call me out on it.
I hope everyone will take the time to learn and celebrate Black History not just in this month of February where we celebrate romantic love, but in every month, as we grow to become a more inclusive nation that recognizes the achievements of all people and offers all people not just equality but dignity.