The Black Effect: All Black Everything

“I remember Marvin Gaye used to sing to me. He had me feeling like Black was the thing to be…”

-Tupac Shakur

February is the start of my favorite month of the year, Black History Month, or as I call it Black Excellence Month. It is the one time of the year other cultures and the rest of the world give African Americans the love, praise, and recognition we deserve and have worked so hard for. I love being Black and given the opportunity, I would not want to be any other race. Although I’m pro-Black all day every day, being Black is the most amazingly wonderful yet exhausting experience and here’s why.

Option A or Option B

Dating back to elementary school during Black History Month, we always recognize the same leaders and events: slavery, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Rosa Parks, civil rights movement and most recently President Barack H. Obama. Never mind there are major gaps to fill in regarding Black history, there’s the main issue of comparison and having to choose between who to honor. For example, yes, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was an amazing leader and did so much for the African American community, but he is often compared to Malcolm X (El Hajj Malik El Shabazz). Same thing with Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois. You have to pick one or the other, but why? They may have had different philosophies and tactics, but the goal was the same. Why can’t I support both?

Colorism

Discrimination based on skin color, also known as colorism or shadeism, is a form of prejudice or discrimination in which people are treated differently based on the social meanings attached to skin color. In the Black community this is #TeamLightSkin v #TeamDarkSkin. Though Black people are not the only race who practices this prejudice, it is rather prominent in our community. It sounds silly because it is, but there are people who base their treatment of others on the shade of their skin. Also, colorism is used to determine beauty. A lighter skinned man or woman is viewed as attractive simply because of how light they are. If you’re dark-skinned, you’re considered ugly. Again, silly. Black is beautiful and you can’t convince me otherwise; I just wish everyone could get on board with that concept.

 

 

Mental Health

Recently I’ve seen people speaking up and out about mental health and how beneficial therapy is. Yay! About time, right? Not in the Black community. In the Black community mental health, therapy, depression, and anxiety are seen as taboo. These issues are reduced to “Oh, you’re just having a bad day” or the all-time favorite “Jesus will fix it!” No, something is actually wrong and I need to be able to talk about it. I need help. These issues are too often swept under the rug and never addressed sometimes leading to lifelong issues. It is absolutely draining to be suffering from one or multiple and not be able to talk about it.

Crabs in a Barrel

It is rumored and in some cases proven true that Black people suffer from the “crabs in a barrel mentality” meaning as someone else rises, we automatically pull them down, completely disregarding the fact that a barrel isn’t a crab’s natural habitat or trying to figure out who built the barrel... Talking to my grandmothers and other (family) elders, all I hear is how united Black people used to be. Everyone used to rise and push each other to succeed. Now it feels like every man for himself or I have to do it first. My message to my community is your light won’t dim by allowing others to shine. Let’s focus on how we can all win and work together to achieve our goals; despite what society may lead us to believe, it’s possible.

It just feels like the issues are never-ending or as soon as you tackle one, here comes another. There are so many other areas that I could touch on, like classism and the over-sexualization of Black people, but if I included all the issues, this would turn into a much longer article. Unfortunately, these behaviors are due to a generational ignorance. People can’t fix something if they don’t see an issue; however, if the issue is recognized how can you fix it if you don’t know how?  How do we break the cycle? Like other issues, we have to talk about it. February should not be the only month or time Black people come together. We have to make the conscious effort to do better, but we’re already taking steps in the right direction.

I love seeing movements like Black Girls Rock, Black Girl Magic, and Black Boy Joy. Additionally, pop culture is catching on to this trend too. The podcast Therapy for Black Girls literally is a podcast dedicated to encouraging Black women to try therapy. Most importantly, we are doing something about it.

 

We still have a ways to go, but progress has definitely made. In case I haven’t said it already, Happy Black Excellence Month! Onward and upward!