by Aiyana Ma’at Today is the first day in February, a month that traditionally focuses on the rich and vibrant past of black folks and the often misunderstood but, oh so powerful, concept of Love. As I sat this morning in my quiet time I began to think about the whirlwind of events and happenings that will be taking place this month…Black History Celebrations, i.e., reports on Harriet Tubman (you know you did one when you were little) :-), recitations of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech , African drumming & dancing performances, and on and on. Let’s not forget about all of the “Love” focus that will be taking place this month…Sweetheart Dances, gifts of chocolate & roses, children begging parents to get the perfect Valentine cards (with the lollipop stuck to it) to give to friends at school. These are but a few of the small and big traditions that we as African Americans engage in during the month of February. And, it’s all good…
Except today, I want you and I to do something a little different. I want us to take this “Black History” & “Black Love” thang to another level. Let’s do a little Self-examination. But, first let’s be clear on exactly what self-examination is. Self- examination is introspection and contemplation of one’s own state, conduct, motives, and desires. At least, this is how the dictionary defines it. I like that definition. But, just in case that’s a bit too wordy for you, here’s my definition: Self-examination– To get real and stay real as you look at your “real” self and not your “made up” self. “So,What’s the point?”, you ask. You see, we don’t want to look at ourselves just because we can. No, the point is to gain insight into who we’ve been, who we really are now (as in are you really living your life in the way that you like to present to the outside world?), and who we are destined to become. It just amazes me sometimes at how many people do not take time out to just sit down somewhere and look at themselves. But, hey I understand it….because I’m guilty of not doing it too.
Ok, so now that we’re clear on self-examination let’s get back to looking at your personal Black History & Black Love Lessons. The title of this article is: Is Your History Holding You Back? How would you know if it is or isn’t? When you take a moment to think about what it was like growing up in your house with the people that lived in your house what comes up for you? Were there beautiful, balanced, and affirming images of love between your parents, other adults, and between you and your caretakers. How were you treated? Did everybody scream in your house? Did everybody stuff their feelings down and make sure they were “appropriate” all the time?
And, what about the legacy of relationships and marriage in your family? Were most folks happily married? Were you and all of your cousins and nem’ (smile) raised in single parent households? Or were there folks in your family married….with the husband having a family on the side that nobody ever talked about? Here’s what I’m getting at ya’ll…. What is the legacy that your family has built over time? This legacy impacts you more profoundly than you realize—for good or for bad. More importantly, what are you doing to continue patterns that need to STOP? What will you do right here and right now to change the course of history in your family? YOU can be the change your family needs. YOU have the power to do some self-examination and make a decision to do better. YOU can chalk where you (and your family) are in life to a comment like this: “Hey, it is what it is…” as you shrug your shoulders or you can start charting a new history in your life & in your love relationships with a statement like this: “It is what I say it is and I say My family will do better and be better—starting with me.
Today, find some quiet time wherever and however you can find it and ask yourself: “What behavior, habit, or pattern am I continuing today that started with my family? That’s all you need to do today. Identify it. That’s the first step toward changing it. Take your personal history and use it to transform you and push you forward instead of imprison you and hold you back.
This is true Black History. True Black Love. Some might even dare to say it’s true…Black Power. 😉