Black History Month: It’s Time to Celebrate Your Tribe

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I have a sweatshirt that says BLACK, in a rather artistic way. It’s the cutest thing ever. I was wearing my cutest sweatshirt ever when a person of non-color asked me what it said. I remember thinking, can she really not figure out what it says or is she just calling attention to the implications of my shirt. I’m Black or African American. Not that I need to announce it because I couldn’t pass if I tried. But neither do I need to be ashamed of it either.

Thus, this reminds me of Black History Month. In February, the US highlights Black folks and our achievements. I’m not sure why we have Black History Month. Does the country as a whole refuse to acknowledge the contributions of a race that helped build it so much so that we have to wave our hands to get respect? I guess the country has to legislate a time to remind people that brown-skinned people aren’t as lazy as they think we are, at least that’s the stereotype.

If a celebration is what it takes to create a better future, then let’s do it. Have you considered how to celebrate Black History Month at your workplace? If you work in an environment where most people are non-Blacks, you may feel a little intimidated about initiating something. There are a few websites (here’s one) that can help you with a list of things to do, but let’s talk about the guts to be able to do them.

As I contemplated sharing in my workplace, I recognized a feeling of perhaps, shame. I begin to process the reasons why I would feel ashamed to share the achievements of Black people. People of non-color don’t have a month to talk about the history of their achievements. But as I thought about my classroom experience, most of the history I learned didn’t include people of color. People of non-color don’t need to share because typically we already know the history that poses as a collective history of the country. Oh, but why do I need to supplement the deficiency of the educational system?

Then, I imagine the eyes glaring at me to condemn me for mentioning the sensitive topic of race. Talking about race makes people uncomfortable because there is an imaginary rivalry between races that ought not be. However, ignoring our differences isn’t the solution because not talking about race hasn’t made me comfortable. Maybe a little discomfort for everyone might result in comfort for everyone.

In the end, I must weigh my need to stay in my comfort zone with the benefit of growing emotionally past my shame, which would expand my comfort zone and result in another level of freedom. Because every tribe has contributed and needs to be included and celebrated, I need to share how my tribe has invented, created, and composed. We need to appreciate, not compare, our differences. Celebrating our tribes in our workplaces can help others appreciate people from a different nation, tribe, or language. I can help the scales fall from someone’s eyes so that they can see the beauty of God’s creative hand in the invention of the races. People with brown skin, and pink skin, skin with hues of red and yellow, all create the bouquet that stands before God’s throne to worship Him in heaven (Revelation 9, 10).

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