With February being Black History month, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how our culture as a country has been deeply influenced and advanced by Black and African American role models in science, music, sports, entertainment, civil rights and the struggle for social justice and equality.
I was a child in the sixties and saw the leadership of Dr. Martin Luther King and the struggles of the civil rights movement. As a young person, my heroes were black athletes in football, baseball and basketball. My musical interests were heightened by Smokey Robinson, The Spinners, The Stylistics, and The Temptations. In some ways we’ve come so far as a society, but in many other ways the struggles are deeper, yet sometimes more subtle than when I was growing up.
Today as we struggle for equity and inclusion, we see that many of our systems, programs and basic privilege is distributed or experienced in vastly different ways, depending on your identity. Access to jobs, education, and capital is significantly influenced by who we are in terms of race, gender and gender expression, sexual orientation, age, ability – the list goes on and on.
In an era where we have our first black President and the possibility of a woman being the next President, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that these examples are truly anomalies. Too many are still experiencing racism and, while at times in a far more sophisticated and systemic manner than before, the violence and loss of potential are just as real and traumatic as ever.
We should celebrate the possibilities we are uncovering but pay full attention to the struggle that continues for people of color today. For me, Black History Month is a celebration of culture, influence and achievement. It’s also a reminder of work that’s left to do and systems that need to be changed. I, for one, am committed to being part of the solution…and so is Trillium Family Services.
Black History IS American History. I hope you will join me in honoring this community’s legacy and challenging systems of oppression to ultimately create a safer, more supportive community for ALL people to live, work, play and learn!