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.