I’ve always considered myself to be a serious person. I take my relationship with my Creator seriously because He is the source of my life and creativity. I take my relationships with people seriously because I value their lives and their connection to me. I took school seriously because it was my avenue of escape from a dangerous and insecure home life. Then, I became a parent and discovered that I had barely tapped into my seriousness.
My earliest memory of the realization of my blackness was when I watched Eyes On The Prize on PBS as a child. I remember thinking, “They look like me and my family. Their stories are my stories.” As the stories were being told on the program, not only did I understand them, but I also felt them in my blood and in my bones. None of the adults in my life sat me down and discussed being black or the black experience in America. I didn’t think to ask them about it, either. Unfortunately, the only black history I got was whitewashed for the consumption of Christian schoolchildren: the obligatory MLK, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver. Our contribution to history is minimized and rewritten to avoid using words with negative connotations. I grew up largely ignorant of the scope of black history.
I didn’t take blackness seriously enough until I began having children. I began compiling information in 2008 in order to provide my children with a family tree. I don’t know what I was expecting, but the answers to my questions only yielded more questions. It was hard to get more than a few names from one of my grandmothers, at first. It took a few years of asking, but once she told me some of her experiences, I understood her hesitance to talk. It’s one thing to watch The Help; it’s another thing to hear someone I know and love talk about foregoing school to work for white folks who sometimes paid her in hand-me-down clothes.
The current stirrings of black pride are inspirational and necessary. For so long, we have believed the lie that black is inferior. I think that the most revolutionary moments are small and private. It begins with us loving who we see when we look in the mirror each day. Once you learn to love yourself, you can begin to love your brothers and sisters. Would you sit idly by while your siblings are bullied and victimized? Not likely! This is the heart of the revolution.