CAMERON ALFORD | CONTRIBUTING COLUMNIST
Over the course of Black History Month, I attempted to capture the voices of young black students and professionals. Their voices express the pride they have in their heritage.
And I have only scratched the surface.
This month has seen multiple forms of political stances on race in America. Beyoncé’s performance at the 2016 Super Bowl and Kendrick Lamar’s at the Grammy Awards respectively, have sparked serious conversations about racism in America.
Race is an identifier and a distinctive marker of who we are and what we experience. It tells the story of how we are unique and common.
Race becomes disgusting when the concept of one group asserting power over another is executed. Due to that superiority there lies a marginalized minority.
Racism affects everyone. It is personal.
But it is not just personal, it is institutional and systematic. It has a gruesome history all around the world.
But my experience is in the “United” States of America. My experience is as a black male, and I can only speak from that level of privilege.
I believe racism is misunderstood by much of the majority today because it is inferred as just a personal attack, but it is really about the misuse of power.
If we look at some of the racial pride movements from the black community alone such as #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackPride or #BlackGirlMagic, it seems that the white majority groups feel a little uneasy or left out.
The response to these movements from the majority simply ask, “Well, what about white pride?”
And it makes some people uneasy.
The concept of “white pride” is reflected in everything we see and experience in American society.
In our education, we are taught the contributions of European explorers who “founded” the soil of the country we stand on today.
We are taught about the contributions of the descendents of those Europeans that invented and created businesses that make our society what it is today.
When we are taught about people of color in America, we talk about the enslavement, the discrimination, and the violence sanctioned against blacks, Latin-Americans, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and Muslim Americans.
The history that is taught is not something I can be proud of as a black American male.
Let us look at who holds the influence on the laws and the enforcement of those laws.
Better yet, let us look at how power was asserted over the course of our American history.
Slavery, Jim Crow laws and overt versus covert racism are just a few of the issues that have and still stand against us black people.
Under Jim Crow laws, black people were dismissed as second class citizens, and it legitimized anti-black racism.
Black couples could not kiss in public in the presence of white people because it offended them.
That is just one reflection of white power being misused. That is not pride.
The mission is not to make white people feel guilty about their history.
I wrote this series to identify the issues we face as humans, promote the appreciation of black voices and embrace what we can be proud of as a race.
I recognized the value of education for black students. I attempted to understand how education has helped us become the innovators and business professionals we were destined to be.
In every interview I conducted over this series, I asked people to tell me what they are most proud of as a black person.
Every single one of my black brothers and sisters linked their pride to our resiliency as a people—the ability to rise from adversity.
When our ancestors were told to be slaves under an oppressive system, they managed to sing, learn, and create their way to freedom from bondage.
After being freed from bondage, our ancestors still dealt with overt racism, Jim Crow laws, and unjust discrimination. But they demanded and championed civil rights and fairness in our justice system for the future generation.
Today we deal with the media representing us in a violent and scary manner. We have our young black brothers and sisters shot and killed in the streets due to police brutality, and the media tells us we deserve it.
When we shout #BlackLivesMatter, the majority says we are racist against white people, we are anti-police and we need to know our place.
But we continue to create. We continue to fight. We are determined to keep our heritage alive.
As black people, we have experienced oppression throughout our history because of our skin color. Loving and taking pride in who we are is revolutionary and it combats this oppression.
Black History Month is not about attacking our white counterparts with our history. It is about helping everyone recognize that we have made a profound impact on America despite the negativity associated with our history.