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What Does Black History Month Mean To You? Part II

By Coco

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Last week we brought you the first instalment of What Does Black History Month Mean To You? with submissions from some of my favourite people and this week we continue. As last week, I asked some incredible influencers & friends two questions:

1.What does Black History Month mean to you? & 2. What does it mean to be black in 2017?

Find their answers below.

I encourage you to share your thoughts and appreciate all of your comments and support on the Gram.

Marcus Troy

@marcustroy

With the rise of Black Lives Matter, Obama finishing his term, police brutality, Trump in office (etc) what does it mean to be black in 2017?
I’ve never associated my “blackness” with a given year. The colour of my skin is with me at all times without any compromise. I’m starting to question skin whether our skin tone as Africans should be deemed black? We need to repair our imagination and rethink how it is we classify people. The other day a guy on twitter said he did not identify as being black but rather identifies himself as being Somalian – he got so much flack and backlash. Why are we considered the colour black when in fact we are not the colour of black? Why must our friends from East Asia be considered brown while many of us share the same skin tone? I believe we should be categorized by our ethnicity or country of origin as our Italian or Greek friends born in Canada are identified as.
Obama never ran on a “black” agenda; I am super proud however that we saw the first “black” president. He showed us how he loved his wife and his family and how he fought for the things that he believed in. He also saved America and some parts of the world from great disaster. The fact still remains that even though he seemed like the coolest dude on the planet and he’s greatly liked and appreciated by many, some of his policies have also been detrimental to the lives of many. I would love to hang out with Obama, but at the end of the day he is still a politician who answers to bigger industries and people than you or me.
On police brutality, the narrative has been set for a very long time that the “black male” is a menace to society and unfortunately those inherited biases travel with people who are supposed to protect us. By human nature alone, they can’t detect who is a law abiding citizen or who is a “street thug” so we are all approached for the most part as hostile. We’ve been discriminated  and targeted against so much, that some of us have taken up the roles that they expect us to be. Lack of resources and education keeps a lot of us ignorant and we flat out refuse to challenge the paradigm. We are for the most part, caught up in a cycle and it seems to be getting worse. They need to teach police about us and our culture and our environments and educate them on how to deal with the disenfranchised and impoverished; they need to have compassion and understanding. Dealing with most police feels like dealing with robots rather than humans.
Trump in office is just another man in office in my opinion. You have to deal with it and don’t get swallowed up by the machine. A lot of people who are complaining about Trump did not even vote. A lot of people are complaining about Trump- did it turn their life around when a president they liked was in office? What difference does it make to most people ? That’s why voting is important- always protect your interest. If you did not vote I don’t want to hear that you don’t like about who’s in power. For those that did vote and are unhappy with the policies and are practicing their right to march and protest, that is what you have to do.  I think now that Trump is in office, it is the perfect time to make power moves.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black history month is just another month to be honest. We should celebrate our culture and highlight our accomplishents all the time. Those who are woke have to face problems and are doing it constantly.

Kayla Grey

@kayla_grey

With the rise of Black Lives Matter, Obama finishing his term, police brutality, Trump in office (etc) what does it mean to be black in 2017?

A word that I quickly associate with being black in 2017 is duty. I feel a strong fire in my soul to do whatever it is that I can to bring change to the way black people are treated and how they view themselves in society. To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever felt this kind of urgency before.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was very insecure about the colour of my skin growing up. As a child, all I wanted to do was fit in. Even now–  as I try to navigate my through my field, there were some mental hurdles that I’ve had to overcome. I had to remind myself that I am enough as is and switching up to make people feel more comfortable, is not what I’m about. As I learn more, exchange experience and history with other people of colour, one element that remains a common theme is how resilient we are. If there is one thing I know for sure, it is that we overcome — always, in all ways.  I take great pride in that fact.  It is the fight within the black community that allows me to believe we will be successful in resisting folks like Donald Trump and what they stand for.

As I reflect on Barack and Michelle Obama’s time in the White House, I feel unstoppable. How could you not? Obama is an example of the mountains an empowered mind can move. The same mountains that society would like you to believe you can’t even touch. Black is not a burden. It took me some time to arrive at that point. Now that I’m here, I don’t think I would want it any other way. I want my kids to feel the exact same.

 

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month for me is the time a collective recharge. A time where we share our stories, recognize and acknowledge our history as well as plan for action in the future. We have a lot of work to do.  I’m in no way suggesting that this can’t or doesn’t happen all year long, but I appreciate what the month stands for and the events, forums, and ceremonies created with the intention of connecting us all.

AshleyMcKenzieBarnes, what does black history month mean to you

Ashley McKenzie Barnes

@ashleymckenziebarnes

With the rise of Black Lives Matter, Obama finishing his term, police brutality, Trump in office (etc) what does it mean to be black in 2017?

To lead by example. At a time when there’s so many racial issues on the forefront of media, politics, art and social networks, I feel the need to be more responsible than ever with how I represent myself. I’m extremely proud to be black, I always have been and this is a time to BE the person I would most admire and respect. Whether thats measured in my career success, creative expression, community leadership or personal relationships… I need to be the best reflection of myself in 2017 as a women of colour.

Create the change and be the change we are looking for.

karlyn percil, what does black history month mean to you?

Karlyn Percil

@karlynpercil

With the rise of Black Lives Matter, Obama finishing his term, police brutality, Trump in office (etc) what does it mean to be black in 2017?

What a great/thought provoking question!  The Hon Jean Augustine, the first Black woman elected to the Parliament of Canada, who brought forward the motion to make Black History Month official in Canada recently reminded us all about the importance of telling our stories & learning from history – our history. So to me, being Black in 2017  means learning my history (West Indian & Canadian), owning my story, accepting who I am & telling that story with pride, confidence, courage and love. It means that I must continue what my ancestors started by advocating for the rights of us all, women, girls, boys & men, especially our youth &  to support (through purchasing power, paying attention where I spend my money) sponsoring others especially women for opportunities) & elevate other Black people, organizations & groups who are working towards the socio-economic advancement of our people.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month needs to be extended beyond the month of February because Black history is Canadian history. To me it is a celebration of who we are, where we come from and a reminder of the work we must continue . I believe we should celebrate Black History 365 and I am so thankful for organizations like By Blacks who have started the narrative on sharing our history, our stories 365 days of the year.

If anyone is interested in learning more about Canadian Black History, follow  #BlackHistory365 via @ByBlacks  

top photo via Shani Crowe

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