Black history month is over. Living black history continues on. This month was the first time that I realized the importance of stoping ordinary chronos time and stepping into kairos time to reflect on the legacy and contribution of my ancestors. Many have said why should we have a black history month and not a white history month. Without getting into the argument about the origins and purpose of black history month I do want to state why I celebrate it and how it functions as an empowering tradition for me.
In the past couple of years I have been reawakened to my blackness after several years of being a missionary/cultural insider within a multicultural setting dominated by white cultural hegemony (translation: a black man who worked with all types of ethnicities and cultures although most of us shared a common connection with white culture). In order to not become uprooted from the reality of who I am while at the same time being immersed in pluralistic America black history month is an oasis of refreshment. Celebrating it has developed into a tradition that I now participate in on a yearly basis:
1. Read books about African American history, life, culture etc. Last year I read Carter G. Woodson’s Miseducation of the negro
This year I read three books (lots of time on my hands):
Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Dubois
Disintegration by Eugene Robinson
The Persistence of the Color Line by Randall Kennedy
2. Speak out the names of the ancestors. This is significant for me as I have learned the importance of remembering where I come from and keeping alive the names of those who have gone before me.
3. Create a work of art to honor my history and my people. This year I wrote a poem calling out the names of the great ones that have gone before me (to be posted at a later date). This poem is something that will continue to empower me through the struggles and trials that life throws at me. It will also keep me tethered to my roots and not allow me to forget where I come from.
And that’s why I celebrate black history: to find strength in the struggles of those who have gone before me and to remind myself that I come from greatness and nothing less is expected of me.