Happy Black History Month: Eight Positive Reminders for my People
It's Black History Month! This year we get a whole 29 days dedicated to remembering our history and celebrating our excellence. I definitely plan on writing about some amazing black history topics, butI wanted my first post for the month to be a real feel-good chat with my fellow black people. So here are eight positive reminders keep in mind this black history month and beyond.
1. Black lives matter
Did you know that if you whisper “black lives matter” in the bathroom mirror with the lights off, an #AllLivesMatter supporter will emerge from the glass and write you a five paragraph essay on why they don’t? (Don’t try this. The last one I summoned is still perched on the edge of my tub revising his conclusion). But seriously, every now and then, just separate those words from all the hashtagging, protesting, and politics that’ve been attached to them for the last while and remember them for their basic meaning: the lives of black people are valuable and worth protecting. They do matter.
2. Black is not a stereotype
You know how every sitcom has a 95% white cast, and then there’s the token black character who is just so ridiculously over the top you can’t believe people think black people are actually like that? You know, the chick who has all the attitude in the world or the black guy who only speaks in slang and wears throwback jerseys everywhere. Well, you don’t have to be anyone’s angry black woman who whistles while she twerks. You don’t have to be the smooth talking black dude who eats, sleeps, and breathes basketball. It’s cool if you can’t quote Jay-Z, Nas or Kanye, but know every character in Naruto and sing country ballads on karaoke night. Black is not a stereotype. Who you are is black enough.
3. You’re beautiful
Go Google “beautiful black men and women.” I’m not kidding, go do it. I’ll wait. Ok, did you have the same mini heart attack I did? Were you able to get your jaw up off the floor? Man, black people are absolutely, unquestionably beautiful. We have skin ranging from ebony dark to butterscotch light. No matter the shade, the sun only makes it prettier. Our hair grows up to the sky in strict defiance of gravity, or erupts from our scalps in curly masses that demand space and attention. Some of us are strong and supple, others lithe and delicate. One race with a hundred different kinds of beautiful. Don’t ever doubt your beauty.
4. Don’t apologize for your blackness or your excellence
Every time we try to shine, someone has something slick to say. Still hasn’t stopped us from shining yet. After 43 presidencies, the US finally got a black man in the white house and he weighs in on rap battles and fist bumps pro athletes. Oprah Winfrey, worth a cool 3 billion dollars, has given away whole entire cars on her talk show because she can afford to. When people got all up in arms about Serena Williams crip walking after winning the Olympics in 2012, she told them, “I don’t care…I’m glad I did it!”We all know Cam Newton, quarterback for the Carolina Panthers (a really fitting team name considering they’re probably the blackest team the NFL right now) is well known for his end zone celebration dances (*dab*), much to the chagrin of sportscasters and opponents who think he’s too cocky. His simple response: “…if you don’t like it, keep me out (of the end zone).” None of them felt bad for winning and celebrating on their own terms and neither should you.
5. It’s ok not to be ok
Listen, sometimes life just gets you in a choke hold and won’t let you go. Everything that could possibly go wrong is going wrong: you’re late for work again, your phone service got cut off, your girlfriend/boyfriend told you it’s not working out anymore (and it’s not them, it’s you). It’s ok to just break down a little bit. Have a good cry. Shed a thug tear.
Lay on a therapist’s couch and tell them that the black splotches on the paper look like the kid who bullied you in the fourth grade. But seriously, it’s ok to not be strong all the time, and it’s definitely ok to do whatever you need to do to cope and get better.
6. It’s also ok to be angry
Sometimes I get really pissed off at something in public, and I remind myself to chill because someone is going to think, “Oh, there goes another black girl being angry and ghetto again.” (Yes, ghetto, even if I’m speaking perfect English and not using a single cuss word because as soon as a black woman gets over a certain decibel, she’s gotta be ghetto. I hope you imagined the huge eye roll that accompanied that statement.) But screw it. If you’re mad, be mad. If the lady who was told by Apple Care that she could come into the store can express her anger, then so can you, black skin and all.
7. Be happy anyway
When you’re done being angry, get happy, whatever that means for you. Anger is toxic if you let it fester, so find what makes your heart sing and do it, whether that’s sangrias on a Saturday night, ball runs with your friends, or your Auntie’s potato salad (literally the only potato salad you’ll ever touch). You only get so many years on this planet and it’d be a damn shame if you spent all of them stewing in your rage.
8. Go where you’re celebrated
I know I said earlier that life isn’t a sitcom, but let’s just pretend for a second that it is. You know on a TV show when a guest star or a favourite character comes popping through the door and they stand there with their hand on the knob with a big cheesy smile and the audience cheers and claps cause they’re so thrilled they’re there? Make sure that you’ve got a group of people who react like that when you show up. Ok, not exactly like that since it’d probably be weird, but you definitely want to be amongst people who are genuinely happy to be around you. Find your tribe.