P/ P Essay: Black History Month Begins Today

Today, Black History Month begins.

In our inner circles and connective conversations, particularly with Black men, the answer to the simple question, “Are you Martin or are you Malcolm?” will shape an African American’s life in relation to how they navigate systemic racism.

I personally like to think of myself as Coretta Scott King. Until writing this piece, I did not feel it appropriate to begin to associate parts of myself that connect with Betty Shabazz (Betty X). But it made me think, maybe I have attributes of both women within me. I learned a lot about her as Mrs. King was an active feminist, she was always available to me in that we had that connection, which I consider to be an important part of my identity.

I wouldn’t be surprised if an African American answered the Martin and Malcolm question with, “I’m a little of both.” But those who truly know themselves know if they are water (Martin) or Fire (Malcolm). We know ourselves pretty well as our natures are easy to access on a primal level.

As a part of the national African American community, I just want to give a nod, a testimony of understanding. if not celebration to all we as a collective have survived.

This can be a time of reflection for us all or a time of discomfort. Why were we offered the shortest month of the year? Well, before we get angry and think it was another ploy by white society to give us less than we deserve, Negro History Month was founded in 1926 by the Black historian, author, journalist and the founder of the Association for the Study of African American Life, Carter G. Woodson.

It is of no consequence (except that this month seems to agitate many, being the shortest month of the year) to the fact that this season exists and we have the time to hold space for ourselves, whether it be publicly or privately.

I certainly wouldn’t have the job I have without my predecessors like Mr. Woodson and the iconic Black journalist, Ida B. Wells. So, for them I pay am infinitely grateful. I personally owe them, my ancestors and all the Black people who were born and died before I arrived on this planet, in the United States, in a little harbor town by the Chesapeake Bay.

I am thankful for this month, I acknowledge my lineage and send goodwill to every melanin rich American in our nation.

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Photo Credit: Photo on the right. Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast . Photo on the left: In this 1969 photo, Ilyasah Shabazz (second from right) sits on the lap of her mother, Betty Shabazz, who was an important civil rights leader. Photo: Courtesy of Ilyasah Shabazz

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