Take the initiative to educate yourself on Black History Month

by Trinity Bland, Staff Writer

Black History Month is among us and as a black woman, I am more than grateful to acknowledge this in the spaces in which I find myself. It is truly an honor to have a month dedicated to my history and culture. I was raised to take it seriously and not only celebrate all of what makes me who I am as a black person in the month of February, but all year long too.

However, it can be a bit frustrating at times when others who do not look like me are often insensitive to the fact that we celebrate elaborately all month long and continue to disrespect us, invalidating our celebration.

We celebrate our brothers and sisters. We celebrate our stories of the past and dreams of the future. We celebrate our innumerous forms of expression. We celebrate the many inventions that have been produced by our ancestors. We celebrate our freedom that is seemingly so close yet extremely far. We have come a long way, but still have a lot more progress to make. 

It was when I came to college that I realized that people who don’t identify as black or African American will not understand that and will never understand that. Honestly, it can be tiring to educate my friends and explain certain topics that they should already be aware of when it comes to culture in general. 

The term, “woke”, is defined as being aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues, especially issues of racial and social justice. The term gets tossed around so loosely from all kinds of people, but I have learned the ones who use it the most don’t know the first thing about being “woke.” I know I should be full of pride when I educate my friends on certain issues that I feel they should know already at this point in their lives, but it frustrates me to know they aren’t culturally aware. This reality completely hurts me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love talking about what makes me who I am as a black woman. However, there is a point in my life where I really begin to question how some of my friends think when it comes to who I am as a person of color, and more specifically, as a black woman. Do they value me? Do they value all of me? Do they value the color of my skin?

Sometimes, it hurts even more when I begin to take a deeper look and it becomes very evident that they don’t. It may not be intentional, oftentimes it’s not, but it is always out of pure ignorance. 

I can’t even begin to count the number of microaggressions that I have directly encountered over the course of my college career, they can happen as often as every day. In my experience, there have been times where the microaggressions have been unintentional, other times, it has not. Either way, it becomes exhausting to call them out when they occur.

There are many factors that we can blame the ignorance of others on including the public school system not being up to par, the area in which they grew up may not have been abundant with other ethnic communities represented, the way their family dynamic is, etc. However, it should not be an excuse to remain in a fixed and ignorant mindset which can result in the chance of hurting someone. 

This month, I challenge you to commemorate Black History Month. You can do this by being slow to speak, eager to understand and open to learning in order to properly honor those around you who identify as African American. We want you to celebrate with us, but we want you to respect us during this month and beyond.

Trinity Bland is a sophomore studying journalism. Follow her on Twitter @trinityaliciaa.