Celebrate Black History Month: But It’s March

It is March 1st so the (mostly) daily blogs have come to an end.

What I have tried to impart to you the last 28 days is that we are still living out the legacy and the pain of the past. Colorism, the formation of the inner city, over policing in Black communities, poor health outcomes, wealth disparity, underemployment, poor education outcomes, under investment, and many of the other ills that have plagued the Black community for generations all stems back to the original sin of slavery. That belief that one race of people had the right to force another race of people to be their property has left ripples in the very fabric of our country from it's founding.

We as a nation have yet to deal with slavery's legacy in any meaningful and substantive way. We like to think slavery, and its repercussions are in the past. I want to frame this in perspective. I am 4 generations from slavery. My mother went to segregated schools, "Soul Man" came out when I was 6 years old and the war on drugs destroyed my neighborhood.

I AM 40.

Slavery ended yes, but the belief that drove it is still alive doing damage to our communities.

What Can You Do?

  1. Join and attend social justice and cultural organization meetings. Listen first and look for opportunities to further their agendas. As the old ladies at my childhood church would say, "We have two ears and a mouth for a reason."
  2. Make a Black friend better yet make 3, if you haven't.  If you have a Black friend make sure you evaluate that friendship. Often we keep our friends at the superficial level. However, I challenge you to really get to know your Black friends, learn what they love and what they hate. Learn about their lives and then invest yourself into issues that matter to them.
  3. Watch films that highlight racial inequality and discrimination. Then talk to those Black friends you made about their perspectives on the movie. Also remember Black people aren't monolithic so all 3 of those friends may take away different things but each perspective will give you insight on the diversity of opinions we have as a community. Just Mercy, Fruitvale Station and The Hate U Give are just a few excellent title's I suggest you watch.
  4. Call out racism and bigotry whenever and wherever you see it. I don't care if its a friend or on a website. We often see things and overlook them, thinking someone else will handle the situation. However, the issue is we need every voice. We need to root racism out of every crevice of our nation from our places of work to our hearts.
  5. Have discussions about race with your friends and family. Invite individuals into your lives to talk about these issues. One of the biggest problems we have with race is we are too afraid or uncomfortable about talking through the injustices that have not only happened in the past but continue today.
  6. Read everything you can about race. There are good materials out there. Some to consider “Becoming an Anti-Racist White Ally,” a tool kit on “Navigating the Conflict Zone and Becoming an Ally,” and Black Perspectives. There are countless more and more being created everyday. Use this opportunity still being mostly at home to read about Black lives and Black dreams.

So This Is Where I Leave You...

I love science fiction. While my house is Star Wars-filled my heart belongs to Star Trek. I almost feel it's blasphemy to say Star Wars is a better franchise. I caught reruns of it and watched The Next Generation with an almost cult-ish level. I still do. What I loved about Star Trek is how everyone had a place in the future from its inception. It was the first show to give a role to a Black women that wasn't derogatory or in a subservient position. It depicted both in the original and the shows moving forward a world of everyone being valued for what they could bring to the table and had a seat at that table.

It had an Asian man being able to be authentically himself. I saw uniforms worn by crew in the background with no speaking roles that were not gender conforming. They would sneak humanist life lessons in. The show had people from other nations, and had Jewish symbolism in almost every episode. However, what I loved most was how it seemed we (humanity) had finally got beyond the divisions we have now.

The San Jose Public Library is committed to racial equity, and social issues in our community. We will be working along with you to offer opportunities to learn more about race, and social justice. I hope that 2021 is just the beginning of better things to come, the start down the path to the racial harmony (and the flying spaceships-but mostly the harmony) of the future I watched as a young girl. I hope that these last few painful years and months will result in a better tomorrow...and maybe a universal translator.

Things to Read

The Souls of Black Folk, book cover
The Condemnation of Blackness Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, With A New Prefac, book cover
The Measure of Our Lives A Gathering of Wisdom, book cover
Race, Reform, and Rebellion The Second Reconstruction and Beyond in Black America, 1945-2006, book cover