Black history has always carried a lot of weight for me. Growing up, my parents constantly stressed that the fight for freedom and civil rights by generations of brave African Americans paved the way for them, as well as countless other African diasporas, to safely seek opportunities in the United States.
It can be easy to lose sight of how little time has passed since the abolishment of slavery. To put it simply, going from being enslaved for 246 years and being considered 3/5th a human to having a black man win the Presidency just 143 years later is unbelievable.
When you consider the systems of oppression built into all our institutions, the countless self-sufficient black communities that were literally burned to the ground and leaders that were harassed and killed, progress should have been impossible. There just isn’t an adjective that effectively describes the resilience, strength and grace of the African American community. One month isn’t nearly enough to celebrate and reflect on this history – there are far too many stories. However, at the very least, it can serve as an inspiration to all of us in the African diasporas to do our part here and back home
Growing up I always struggled with where I “fit in”. I didn’t check any one specific box in the communities I grew up in. As I matured into adulthood, I came to the realization that I don’t need to fit cleanly into any one category that has been pre-defined by our society. I’m an Ethiopian-American with a wide range of interests. Although I am not a descendant of slaves, there are issues that I am passionate about as a black person in America that impact me, my children and generations down the line. And though I wasn’t raised in Ethiopia, I care deeply about the country I consider my homeland and what we pass on to the next generation.
As recent events like the Black Lives Matter movement have shown, the fight is far from over here or back home. An individual does not necessarily need to take on a leadership role or have the loudest voice in order to make an impact. It is our responsibility to use our voices, skills and expertise, in any capacity we are able, with one common end goal – to uplift our communities and create a better landscape for our future generations.