What Black History Month Means to Me, Now

This article is part of a series of staff insights, observations and perspectives to commemorate Black History Month. Click here to see similar posts.

For some people, Black History Month is like any other time of year. But for me, it’s a cause for celebration.

It’s a time to glow in the brown skin that we’ve been told to hate and marvel at how we’ve persevered through all of the hardships, long after the chains were broken. It’s an opportunity to recognize all the doors we’ve opened without having the keys to the lock. It’s a moment to remember how we built our own path with nothing but our bravery and determination. And even when that path seemed dark, we pushed onward. Even when our homes were burned to the ground, we rose from the ashes. In spite of every tribulation we’ve been dealt, we’ve triumphed. In spite of every roadblock put in our way, we’ve broken barriers. Despite it all, we’ve remained unshaken throughout every attempt to destroy our greatness.

I am proud to be black in everything that I do. I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today if it wasn’t for the remarkable people that came before me. Figures like Marian Anderson, who gave me the courage to let my voice be heard; Maya Angelou, who ignited my passion to express myself through writing; and Ida B. Wells, who taught me that creating change comes from courage and boldness. I wouldn’t know that any of it was possible if it weren’t for them. Their sacrifices have pushed me to be bolder in my work. Because of them, I’m not afraid to be creative and bring bold ideas to the table for projects. With each year, I grow more curious to learn about the figures who came before me and how their contributions have allowed me to be where I am today.

The older I get, the more I understand the beauty that comes with my skin. The resilience of a people who have been teared down and marginalized. We’ve sculptured our own sense of community in a world that told us we didn’t belong. Even today when the hatred that taunted our ancestors still lingers, we keep on progressing. Black History Month allows us to drown out all of the prejudice that has tried to stifle our momentum. This month allows us to love and glorify the bodies that have been criminalized, dehumanized, and considered threatening based on their darker hue. This month isn’t about the pain we endured but the strength that grew from it. We don’t need to conform. We set our own standards of beauty, uniqueness, and excellence. I wear my skin as a badge of honor and I am unapologetically me.

We’re still writing our history and our light won’t be dimmed.