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Dear America: Stop Feeling Awkward About Black History Month

Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

People join hands against the backdrop of an American flag as thousands of marchers meet in the middle of Charleston's main bridge in a show of unity after nine black church parishioners were gunned down during a Bible study, Sunday, June 21, 2015, in Charleston, S.C. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Photo Credit: AP Photo // David Goldman

Dear America, stop feeling awkward about Black History Month.

You know what’s awkward? Tip-toeing around a subject that should be celebrated and praised.

Black history isn’t as simple as allocating 28-29 days of the year to acknowledge our existence in this country.

Every time this month rolls around, news outlets do their best to step up to the plate to enlighten and educate this very interesting breed of people who still don’t understand the importance of this discussion.

Growing up, classes that spent those 3-4 [early release] forced days of the school year covering African-American history, would awkwardly jump from slavery to MLK, never doing proper justice to the many great contributions of blacks in between and beyond that period.

For every person that thinks we should just “get over it” because we’re on TV (casted stereotypically usually, but I digress) and we can use the same bathrooms etc, just take a step back for two seconds.

When we make these statements, have these award shows, or develop our own platforms, people cry out that we’re further segregating ourselves, when all we’re really trying to do is celebrate our contributions to society, because no one else will.

Instead of waiting or begging for inclusion, we found ways to showcase our dynamism on our own.

Our gospel choirs, our dance culture, and our hairstyles are constantly appropriated and adapted by others who then make it “cool” enough for mainstream and get all the credit.

How quickly people turned away from us during the “Black Lives Matter” movement, but how rapidly they turned back around to learn how to “Whip and Nae Nae”.

Do you see how exhausting it gets to only be acknowledged when people can benefit from what you contribute?

We don’t like being used for the parts of us you all enjoy.

If you want to copy aspects of our culture, then at least acknowledge all of it.

As a 90’s kid and well into the new Millennium growing up, I remember race was just a nonexistent topic. People thought that if we just never addressed it, it didn’t exist.

But I’m so happy and relieved people are finally finding comfort in having this dialogue.

Dear America, Stop Being Awkward About Black History Month

We’re curious and dynamic people, and if you grew up in a country where you were underrepresented or under-appreciated in every aspect of life, suppressing your emotions can only be a solution for so long.

So I urge everyone to take a step back and listen to the voices of people who need to “get over it” and “move on”.

Did you personally enslave a race? Of course not.

So just realize the conviction you might feel is natural, because you’ve maybe just never given the other side a second thought prior.

My intention is never to make people feel guilty or attacked, because I truly wish this wasn’t so awkward for people to discuss.

So seek to understand instead of seeking to be understood, and you’ll be amazed at how much you can learn about yourself and others.

And please stop feeling awkward about Black History Month if you’re not black, and take a moment to understand why this dialogue that’s been suppressed for years, should be one we can all comfortably have today.

Happy Black History Month to everyone.

This post was inspired by Buzzfeed’s video about things we wouldn’t have if black people didn’t invent them that you can find and watch here.

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