Black History Month in a Whitewashed America

Black History Month in a Whitewashed America

I have to start by saying, I was very hesitant to share this post. Although I stand behind my words, I fear they will be taken wrong or misconstrued into something completely different. Something they’re not. When people of color talk about the issues we face, we are often seen as, or made out to be, overdramatic. Instead of listening to our concerns, fears and opinions, it seems the world would rather mute our voices, whether they realize it or not.

Trigger Warning: This post does talk about touchy subjects such as racism and police brutality. Please proceed with caution.

I think it’s important for me to mention that I am not against cops. I support anyone who is willing to put their life on the line for the safety of others. I am, however, against injustice and abuse of power.

I’m sure I will be judged. Written off as “another bitter black woman” – aggressive and angry. I’m sure some will belittle my hurt and the struggle of my people. Probably all while mentioning they “don’t see color.” After all, no one does, right?

I read somewhere that Black History Month is considered a time of celebration. Although many people can appreciate that statement, I can’t for some reason. I can’t imagine how I am expected to “celebrate” the many years my people were enslaved. Years of oppression, injustice and inhumane treatment. Beaten and killed, yet given the shortest month of the year to “reminisce” and learn about it.

While I am so grateful that we have a month, I’m disappointed that we need one. Black history is American History

This country was built on the backs of my ancestors and for the life of me I can’t understand why we can’t learn about Garrett Morgan and Thomas Edison during the same month. Year-round.

Black History Month in a White-Washed America

In a world where white barbies are considered the epitome of beauty and dark skin is under-appreciated and often looked down upon. In a world where senseless acts of violence against innocent people and children are defended and justified because someone “felt threatened” by simply the presence of a person of color. In a world that may even lead you to believe there is more value in a “blue life” than a black one. – It’s important for us to know and understand where we began in order to fully appreciate where we are and know how far we have to go.

Black History Month in a White-Washed America

I am 110% proud of my culture. I’m proud to be African American. With everything people of color have endured, we continue to thrive. We continue to fight. From being discriminated against, looked down upon, ignored. We still stand. We still rise.

While I may not celebrate the fact that my people have had to overcome such cruelty and injustice, I certainly celebrate that we did. People like Shirley Chisholm, Granville Woods, Michelle and Barack Obama, Alma Adams and so many more have paved the way for black Americans. Encouraging us to do more. Be more. – I celebrate them. I celebrate what my ancestors have given me. What they have given to the community. I celebrate the gift of freedom so many of my heroes fought so hard for me to enjoy.

Although we have come a long way, we still have much further to go.

This year, as we remember and appreciate all of our amazing black leaders, activists, advocates and trailblazers, I ask you to keep one in mind.

This post is in loving memory of Botham Jean.

I know you’re cracking jokes in heaven as you did on Earth.

Botham was the definition of a black leader and truly embodied the role of black excellence. Someone who certainly would have made history, yet his life was cut short.

Last September Botham was murdered, in his own home by an off duty police officer who, “mistakenly went to the wrong floor”. Botham was a good man and deserved better. His death is truly a tragedy and the lack of coverage in the media is a disgrace to say the least. – Sad, but not surprising. Although extremely unfortunate, he’s not the first person of color to lose his life at no fault of his own.

This Black History Month, let’s normalize living in color. Let’s embrace the power of uniqueness. Let’s live together and learn from one another. Let’s celebrate the accomplishments of the leaders before us and appreciate those who put their lives on the line for rights, freedom and equality.


5 Comments

  • Posted February 4, 2019 10:41 am 0Likes
    by Helen's Journey

    An honest account of your experience and thoughts. To me as a culturally aware white woman, being colourblind isn’t a positive attribute as you are ignoring the whole inequality that comes along with different skin colours in this country.
    If you are white and say you don’t see colour, then how can you be aware of the privilege and difference the colour of your skin gives you over other colours?
    I’m glad you didn’t let the fear of being misunderstood stop you from posting this. Keep sharingshari experiences as the way people respond is more to do with their own issues that your words stir up in them, than actually your words themselves.
    Helen | http://www.helensjourney.com

    PS: FYI Black History Month is in October here in England.

    • Posted February 4, 2019 10:52 am 0Likes
      by shawnbethea

      Thank you Helen! First, for even taking the time to read my story, but also for sharing your perspective. I so agree!

  • Posted February 7, 2019 8:52 pm 0Likes
    by kkr0cks

    Hi, Shawn. I am in the process of trying to understand the inequality between my white skin, and your beautiful brown skin. I am filled with sadness that we still are struggling with this issue. I was quite young during Martin Luther King’s time and what I saw on the television filled me with fear, to see so much violence in the news. I upset one of my coworkers when I was a new nurse at age 22. But I never understood why or how I had offended. I was too intimidated by her anger to ask what I had done. I believe that God made us all in His image, and that He obviously loves variety, because there is an abundance of variety in flowers, and plants, and animals, so why not that abundance in people. Humbly, one white woman.

  • Posted February 9, 2019 3:19 am 0Likes
    by Sara

    I’m white as hell, obvi with my Norwegian genes and anyone who thinks being white doesn’t mean we are treated better is lying and it’s sad they can’t recognize that. I roll my eyes hard when people say they don’t see color. I feel like it gets said to make them feel better because they’re uncomfortable and afraid of difficult conversations. I was in the car with one of my best friends in college who is black and police pulled us over to basically grill her asking questions about what she was doing out. One time leaving my neighborhood at night with her bike in the backseat she was pulled over. She wasn’t driving bad, had done nothing wrong but they questioned her about the bike and who it belonged to and all this stuff as if she stole it. I could never claim to understand what it’s like to be black but I certainly want change for you. It’s not fair so much about how you’re treated for absolutely nothing other than skin color and people’s prejudice. Police need to be held accountable and have harsh punishment or it’ll never stop.

    • Posted February 10, 2019 4:03 pm 0Likes
      by shawnbethea

      I’m glad you can understand and empathize. I really appreciate your input on this topic. I agree, I think people try to sound accepting by mentioning not seeing color, but unfortunately, it’s important we do. I’m sorry your friend had to go through that. I do hope there comes a day when people are treated as equals and law enforcement is held accountable for their actions. Hopefully soon.

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