Black History begins at home, my people

I've always paid homage to my grammar school for making a big deal out of Black History Month. We participated in recitals, dance, book reports and if you were just a prop in a play, you were involved no matter what. This was during the 70s when Alex Haley's "Roots" was a very big deal, so much that every household watched it because we talked about it each day in class.

At that time, I recognized a few well-known actors such as John Amos from "Good Times" but as I got older watching the reruns, I didn't realize the stellar cast (black and white) as a whole. Each actor held their own, unlike today's actors where there's a lot of upstaging and other nonsense. While I'm grateful for Haley sharing his story and my grammar school reminding us black students of what our ancestors went through, Black History generally begins at home.

There may be some of you reading this with a "DUH" attitude but there are a lot of black families who are clueless to whom they belong. Of course, slavery has a lot to do with separating our people but fast forward to this century and a little before then, there are a lot of broken homes in the black community.

For example, you have single moms or dads who may have ended things bitterly, with no regard for the child. Lo, and behold, "someone" in the family dies, the child shows up, and all sorts of drama unfold. This could have been avoided by either parent informing the child of who they belong to regardless of how they feel about the other parent. Such is my case with my son Kameron. I truly believe that God set in motion that his autism has him clueless about his father's side of the family because they have no regard for him in the first place. At least I know in my heart of hearts I did my part to communicate so I can rest well at night.

Family reunions are great too and with black families, like funerals, expect a bit of drama and eye-rolling. Once the smoke clears and Great Aunt Hattie says that you look like her sister Bessie Lou when she was sixteen, you look forward to seeing them again next year. Last, but not least, DNA kits are on the rise. I had the pleasure of using 23 and Me to discover that my maternal side was from West Africa and my paternal side was Sub-Saharan.

Africa is such a massive continent with so many countries and tribes within those countries so I would have to do some extra digging but at least I have a start. Currently, I'm happy to know that I have enough information to tell my oldest son Kevin if he should ever ask about my upbringing and where his grandparents are from.

I took a course in African Art and Philosophy and would take that course over again just for the fun of it. It opened my eyes to so many things and I wanted the course to last forever. One assignment had me interview my mom and dad and I viewed them differently after that. My mom was born and raised in Chicago, dad was born and raised in Mississippi. They're the same age--they came up in the Civil Rights Movement and they both experienced discrimination and racism. This showed me that as long as you had dark skin, it didn't matter where you were from in America.

Yes--Black History begins at home, my people. Tell your children to put down their electronic gadgets and unplug from social media for a moment and just ask a few questions about their family. I guarantee they will be intrigued to know more.

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