Black History Month is upon us, as it comes around every February. This year I am taking a new approach on this celebration of a part of our nation’s history. This month I am taking guest posts from writers who wish to explore thoughts and feelings about race that have affected their lives. I am targeting white authors, although, I have asked for some posts from black authors as well and I am open to any person of any race/skin color who wishes to author a piece.
My Take On Black History
Growing up in Texas, my education on Black History never got much past Martin Luther King Jr. and the very basics of the Civil Rights Movement. For years I knew that MLK Jr. made it “all better.” I truly never realized that there was still racism in the United States until I made a black friend while living in Okinawa, Japan on a U.S. Air Base as a young woman, married to an airman.
Anyone who knows me now or has read my blog for some time would probably be astonished to find out just how naive I was once upon a time. But I was.
It was the O.J. Simpson trial that brought some of our discussions to light. I met my friend in a creative writing class one summer and I liked her instantly. It was because of her that I began to open my eyes to the fact that there were still racial problems in the United States.
She was not my first black friend, but she was the first one who blatantly argued with me that racism still existed and spent many hours determinedly sticking to her guns when I naively held my own opinion that it was no longer a problem.
She was the first person who challenged me to rearrange my thinking about racism in our country. She was, by no means, the only friend, but the first in a long string of loving and intelligent friends of color who answered my questions and patiently allowed me to struggle with my thinking.
A few years after meeting that friend, I moved to Detroit where I was confronted by the very uncomfortable divide in the blacks and whites at work. I noticed that we got along great until there was a conflict with a white and black person, then suddenly the ranks would close around each side, strictly divided along race lines. I found that interesting and it was due to those experiences that I began to seek out more opportunities to find out more about racism.
And so with that, I realize there is a need for white people to have space to think through their feelings and thoughts. Black History Month may seem a strange time to choose to give a platform for white people to think about their naive, uneducated thoughts about racism.
I am prepared to take some criticism for choosing this month for this topic. However, I think it makes a lot of sense.
Black History is part of American history and African Americans are not the only people affected by our history. We are all in this together.
I believe that our histories as well as our futures are completely intertwined and we must all partake in this discussion. I agree with black authors who say that white people should stop talking for black people when it comes to racism. I want to make that clear.
I do not want posts from white people discussing how black people feel.
I want them to talk about their own skin color, their own experiences and their own questions about racism.
So with that, I leave open the opportunity for guest posters who may wish to write about their own thoughts on race, racism, skin color and other thoughts along those lines.
Please see my last two posts and the page on guest posting for more information and guidelines.