As we enter another February let us once again welcome in Black History month. A time set aside when the nation purposefully acknowledges the accomplishments of blacks throughout history, never mind that it is the shortest month of the year. As we begin the month I wonder does it still have the same effect as before.
Just think, this possibly could be the last Black History month that we have with a black president for a very long time. Just the very fact that we have a black president seems to speak to how far blacks have come. However, as we look at the news we still continue to see crime, murders, gangs, imprisonment, and poverty as major issues that face black people. So while we can see noticeable improvement in several areas, as a whole we still have a long way to go.
I remember in grade school when it was time to hear about Black history there always seemed to be a collective groan in the classroom because we had to hear the topic of slavery. After hearing slavery taught in class my friends and I would say, “We could never be slaves”. I also remember when ROOTS came on TV for the first time. We discussed it in school and around the neighborhood and said that “We could never be slaves”. We felt we were to smart, and tough to be slaves. I bet even today most of the youth would feel that they could never be slaves.
What is the definition of a Slave:
someone who is the legal property of another
So when we said we could not be a slave this is what we were referring to, however there is another definition:
A person that is strongly influenced and controlled by something
How many people could this describe? Although it is only one month, Black History month reminds us of great thinkers, inventors, and life changers. Whether it is King, Malcolm X, Douglass, Dubois, Tubman or many others they taught us to be different and not to conform. How many of us who said we could never be a slave (definition 1) are actually slaves (definition 2). Slaves to society and following the crowd. Flocking to the latest $200 dollar sneakers if we can’t afford them, the latest phone. Slaves to the opinions of others and what they think of us. Needing their approval or our day is not productive. Slaves to what society says beautiful or attractive is. Slaves to putting ourselves in debt to look important. Most importantly slaves to jobs or careers that we hate. Everyday waking up early to head to a job to spend 9 hours at a place we dread and not try to do anything to change it.
Some of the slaves we heard about in the black history lessons from school would do anything to be free, risk their life to experience freedom. The joy of freedom far outweighed the pain of the whip or punishment. Many people today prefer the pain of the frustration of their jobs over the uncertain joy of living their dreams.
So I welcome this February, I welcome this Black History month, if it does nothing else hopefully the spirit and energy of the history of past leaders and innovators can continue to motivate us in 2015 to not be satisfied with how far we have come. There is plenty of work to do and plenty more stories to be told. Trust me, you don’t want to be a slave (definition 1) or (definition 2)!!!