Some may wonder why as African women we celebrate Black History Month with so much pride and passion. Well, let us give you a little insight…
As Africans, born and raised until around middle/high school, the concept of black history month wasn’t something we thought of as relevant to our lives. We learned our African history in school (back home) and around the dinner table from our parents, visiting aunts and grandparents. What we failed to realize at that young age was that in coming and living in America, our strong African identities would be erased in the eyes of American society. We would be placed in the ever ambiguous racial box of black and/or African American simply because of the color of our skin, irrelevant of our background and origin. Amongst our African-American friends we would get the question of “where are you from?” and an eagerness to learn about our cultures, languages (yes, we taught them the bad words- duh), and taste our spicy food. The exchange of childhood stories were vastly different but inherently, the same in their strong ties to history, self perseverance and pride.
After high school, and leaving the safety and sheltered lives our parents had build, several lessons were learned while in college and later in corporate America. Having Melanin in America means you were black and being black meant you would experience every facet of the African-American experience both positive and negative including learning to love Hip Hop, Soul food, and feeling welcomed, but it also meant experiencing racial profiling and institutional racism; to name a few on both ends. The assimilation of the knowledge and experiences of African-Americans became our own. The stories of the men and women who fought for this land, for freedom, equal rights and justice became our own. The struggles of past, current and future generation for lives to matter became our own.
So, yes! We celebrate Black History Month because it is our history to share and love as Africans (living in) America.
*Image by @Streetetiquette