What Black History Month Means to Me!

 

 

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

 

 

 

To this day when I see images of the Statue of Liberty, it produces an emotion of patriotism for this country, my country…the United States of America!   However, today my emotions and my thoughts led me to the question…why does this simple symbol bring up such a  patriotic response to a country that continues to discard my value? My search for the answer takes me back to grade school when I was taught this was a symbol of freedom for all people. I was taught the part of the poem that says “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, “ I was taught that in school so I believed it as the truth and that it included me. My parents always emphasized that education was important and they sent me to school to get that education, so I believed everything those teachers taught me. I now know that they did not teach the truth of the history of this country. They taught snapshots or only part of the history. There was very very little of my history taught in school. They taught about George Washington Carver and a few others. But what I remember most are the lessons about slavery which by some weird twisted way always left me ashamed and embarrassed. I remember the giggles of the white kids… not all white kids but enough to make me fight back tears every time.  I remember that the teacher never addressed those kids laughter unless it was a “quiet down kids” with a smirk on his or her face. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how the descendants of those who gave such an awful disregard of humanity made me, the victim, feel terrible (another issue for another day). The teachers did not teach MY history.  Those books that showed images of the Statue of Liberty did not include the history behind the image. The original image that represents freedom was a Black slave woman and the United States made them change that image.  That was my history those books and teachers systematically omitted!!!

This is not a mad rant about how wrong the educators were to lie to me…although it was wrong. It is the simple affirmation as to why Black History month is vitally important to me. It uncovers more and more of my history which has been treated like a dirty secret…never talked about. Black history month makes me pause, think about, and question what I believed to be true from those earlier teachings. It’s a time when I explore my history and learn new things. I feel a responsibility to my ancestors and those generations after me to teach my history…Black history. Today America is far from perfect but this is MY country, so the next time I see the Statue of Liberty or hear the National Anthem I know I will be emotional like usual. However,  this time I’ll understand it is from knowing that not one right that I freely live in today was given to me. Every single right I have as an African American comes from the shed blood of my ancestors. I need to know their names and read about the strength and courage of those who fought and demanded these freedoms I have today…this is why Black History month is so important to me!!!

Now you know I cannot leave without inviting each to join this history making nonprofit…My 10 Counts. Donate $10 today and become a part this philanthropic movement of cash into the community. We must take care of each other, it’s in our DNA!!

Joanne Reed

“I’m no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I’m changing the things I cannot accept.”         Angela Davis

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