God made the world diverse
I’ve always loved science, data, and history. When all three are combined, they provide a glimpse into our past in addition to providing knowledge and understanding of various topics throughout history that are rooted in facts. There is so much rich history in the evolution of humans that I don’t ever recall learning in grade school or even high school. A history that speaks of the fossil beds discovered in Olduvai located in Tanzania, and Lake Turkana in Kenya as being the origin or cradle of humankind. This was not something I was ever taught in grade school and I can’t help but wonder why.
To know that my origin is tied to some of the world’s most memorable and powerful kings and queens in history is a joyous yet somber feeling...
I was recently asked the question, "Why do I believe it is so important for all people to acknowledge and celebrate African American (black) history month?"
And as I ponder over the question I find myself flooded with a whirlwind of emotions. To know that my origin is tied to a country with rich resources and some of the world’s most memorable and powerful kings and queens in history is a joyous yet somber feeling because I’ll never know the exact location of my roots. Do I come from a long line of kings and queens? Do I resemble them in looks and/or character? Does my daughter? These are all lingering questions that I will never know the answers to. But what I do know is that on my mother’s side of my family I have a relative who was brought to Beaufort, South Carolina, a stop on the Atlantic Slave Trade route where she was bought and sold and given the American name Sally. The same state where an estimated 10.7 million slaves were bought and sold in the mid 1500’s to the mid 1800’s in South Carolina alone. The same city where hundreds lost their lives in the Civil War.
On my father’s side I learned about a relative named Roshane who was sold in the West Indies. This is all that I have been able to recover from my family history and I will always wonder what became of Sally and Roshane. Two women whose blood flows through my veins. Two women who were considered by law to only be 3/5th of a human being.
According to Wikipedia there are 99.5% similarities between all humans when it comes to genetics. If, genetically speaking, we as the human race are all more alike than we are different, then I ask the question: why has the social and economic constraints of oppression created disadvantages for marginalized groups?
Although I feel that it is important to celebrate black history month I feel even stronger that this month, if celebrated, should focus on the history and the accomplishments of African Americans and their contributions to this country in academia and wider American society. I long for the day where the history books in grade schools will reflect a more in-depth truth of African American history and scratch more than just the surface of the "feel good" stories of the Civil Rights movement. Although the accomplishments of Harriet Tubman, Fredrick Douglas, and Jackie Robinson are notably wonderful, we tend to focus on the positive things such as the non-violence stance that Martin Luther King, Jr. represented throughout his life, but yet, equally acknowledge the way in which he was assassinated for the same non-violence and equal rights that he gave his life fighting for.
I long for the day that the accomplishments of African Americans are highlighted over and above the negative stereotypical images of African Americans
I long for the day where my 10 year-old daughter might learn about the atrocities of the nearly 35,000 African American’s who were lynched up until nearly the 1970’s. Or the mass attack on black Wall Street in Oklahoma where thriving black owned businesses were targeted and burned to the ground along with nearly 300 people of color, at a time where wealth and prosperity for African Americans was thriving. But even more than that, I long for the day when the accomplishments of African Americans are highlighted over and above the negative stereotypical images of African Americans. When President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history," I believe he was talking about highlighting the resilience and brilliance of a culture who has often been portrayed in a negative light. Black history is American history and should be taught as such. It should be relevant throughout the entire year and not simply focused upon during the shortest month of the year.
Diversity is the way God made this world
Diversity is the way in which God made this world. When we focus on and celebrate our differences as well as our similarities, I believe it brings a better life experience for all. I believe if we acknowledge the reality of power and privilege and how systemic constraints has shaped both the conscious and unconscious biases of American culture, we can all be true allies for one another. Unconscious bias is a natural part of human nature; we all possess it. When we, as people of faith, acknowledge and call out our own unconscious biases, we are moving the needle forward to true unity under the eyes of God in the way in which He intended it to be.
John 17:23 says; I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. What a powerful scripture.
The book of Colossians speaks about unity as well. Colossians 3:13-14 says; Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
We are meant to live as united in the eyes of God. In order for us to do that authentically we must learn, recognize, and acknowledge our history. We must know the differences between equality and equity and make a unified effort to uphold both. We must honor and celebrate our differences in a way that we are being true allies for all people, especially those who are marginalized. And we must do this in an effort to reject the unconscious biases that we all carry. I long for this unifying action to one day be a true reality. And because I know that the God I love and serve is almighty and powerful, I am confident that this day is on the horizon.
Thank you for reading my words, my truth, my beliefs, and my story. God bless.
Youth Program Coordinator