“The unwillingness to try is worse than any failure” Nikki Giovanni (Author, Poet Laureate, Philanthropist)
The privilege of growing up in a military family afforded me the opportunity to travel. Through those travels, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many people from diverse cultures, races, and ethnic backgrounds. Those experiences taught me an important lesson which I continue to carry in my daily life: Be Proud of Your Race and Culture.
While other countries celebrate all facets of their culture every day of the year, in America, the African American culture is acknowledged and celebrated for the designated month of February, our shortest month of the calendar year. African Americans are the backbone of our country having helped mold the dominant positioning we find amongst countries around the globe. Black History is the DNA of our heritage. My parents invested time and energy into ensuring I knew the sacrifices of my ancestors, which allow me the life I live today; a life free from enslavement, a life free to cast my vote, a life filled with the freedom to educate myself and filled with the freedom to work where I want. A life destined to move the culture forward through inspiration and empowerment of those I connect with in my daily paths.
What does Black History mean to me? Black History is not just a month that should be celebrated. Black History is a culture, a prideful way of living that should be uplifted and exalted every day of the year. An influential culture filled with skills, abilities, and intelligence that far exceeds any amount of material items one may come to possess.
The accomplishments and inventions of African Americans have shaped every facet of America. From the automated traffic light, open-heart surgery, music, and the advocation of Civil Rights and Equal Opportunity. Achievements that propel daily living, and in my opinion, should not be downgraded to a mere month of recognition. Black History is a latitude of elevation to humanity and community.
As an African American woman, there are a lot of negative stereotypes which we have to work hard to dispel. One particular stereotype being the “Angry Black Woman” who is uneducated, displays an unwilling desire to work, a person disgruntled and unapproachable. It is stereotypes such as this that I have worked hard to ensure they are never associated with my name. Pioneer women of the African American culture such as Harriet Tubman, Phyliss Wheatley, Coretta Scott-King, Nikki Giovanni, Oprah Winfrey, and our Former First Lady Michelle Obama stepped through levels of injustice and oppression to sacrifice their hearts and souls to grant me the privilege and opportunity to attend any College and University to obtain my MBA.
My philosophy on African American History may best be summed up by Former First Lady Michelle Obama, she writes: “Don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage is contagious and hope can take on a life of its own.” With that sentiment, I strive to be a beacon of reflection to my culture. I aspire to be the injection of empowerment and pride, the echelon in which others can aim to become and surpass. My heritage dictates that I embrace the opportunities granted to me and that I encourage and inspire others to be nothing less than GREAT! This is my definition of African American History and what it means to me.