Acknowledging Black History Month -Essay I Wrote/ Images of Me Experiencing the Smithsonian African American Museum

 

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Disclaimer: There will be some discouraging and aggressive opinions that I have expressed in this blog ( Essay) for as an African American Woman,  I took this assignment very personal. And I want to take a timeout on my normal Health/Wellness blog post and acknowledge the month of February which is Black History Month.

I got an opportunity to visit Washington, DC and experience the African American Smithsonian, I will incorporate some of my pictures in this blog along with web photo examples in this content.

 

So in the history class that I took, I had to write an essay on a topic about what the effects of past history that Americans see in today’s history. I wanted to share with you my essay that I wrote called, “Southern Black Slavery and U.S. African-Americans: Because of the Color of My Skin; 1600’s-2017″ ( The cited information will not be included in this blog post for it was cited in my essay).

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Essay

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It was Martin Luther King Jr’s. “I have a dream speech” and signing of the Emancipation Proclamation that set the tone of the American people. While the Emancipation Proclamation freed Black slaves it took many years of what seems to have been a prolonging effort to convince American citizens that Black Americans should be treated as equal. Martin Luther King Jr. preached of the Negro still not being free in 1963, 100 years later of the emancipation.1 And still, the racial judgment, discrimination, and hate remain in the lives of many American Citizens. And African Americans still remain inferior to society. The impact of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment were integral documents in the history of ending slavery, but African-Americans are still living with post-traumatic slave history.

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued by Abraham Lincoln in 1862, allowed more than 3 million black slaves in the United States to be free and continue the fight against slavery.2 And even though as of today slavery has ended, arguments about the past that have affected African-Americans today is not only a haunting past history of ancestry but remains a struggling fight against the rights and wrongs of discrimination and racism in the United States during the 21st century.

The United States represents the land of opportunity and the home of the free, but in reality, the history and legacy of oppression among Black Americans indicates the nation’s failure to fulfill what is written in the constitution, which is justice to all as well as equality beyond the color of one’s skin. The identity of an African-American today is still characterized as troubled or damaged. It’s sadly as if Black Americans are considered a threat to American Citizenship. And even though the undertone and attitude of many White’s perspectives may be unintentional, ignorant, and/or belligerent, the act of dehumanization of Blacks during slavery in the 1600’s through early 1900’s, still affects today’s Nation.3Me.jpg

Southern blacks were born into White Supremacy. Blacks were never looked at as equal human beings but used as “property” to increase the economy. For hundreds of years, the cruelty to Southern Blacks has yet to redeem the modern day African-American. It is because of the past history that has been taught of a struggling Black Slave and the life they endured day in and day out. The life of a southern slave was spent on many plantations and farms in various regions owned by planters; white overseers, or masters. Several days a week, the labor required from slaves including, men, women, and children varied from weeding, yard cleaning, picking cotton, digging ditches, building homes, working on boats, mills, railroads, working as house servants; including cooking, cleaning, and gardening. Some slaves worked within the community as preachers and caretakers.2 Slaves also worked on sugar plantations but the death rates were extremely high. The labor was repetitious and strenuous. Their families was an important element to cling to among Black Slaves but Plantation owners would use this knowledge as a power and threat. Discipline included separation of family by trading slaves with other plantation owners.2 Rebellious acts of slaves including back talk, lying, stealing, running away or escape, not showing up for labor, or acts of any threat to white overseers or slave masters would involve other punishments consisting of whippings, beatings, breaking bones, lynching, rape of women, teeth removal, iron to body parts, breaking of limbs, confinement in a dungeon, beating out eyes, and castration.4 This painted picture and this knowledge of history that have been documented in American History, is the reasoning of why many African-Americans feel the tension of hatred and anger within society. It is the reason that most African-Americans feel that skin color is still in the eyes malignant citizens.

Nat Turner .jpgIn short, in the place of decency, sympathy, morality, and religion; slavery produces cruelty and oppression. These punishments ruin the constitution. 5It was Nat Turner’s 48 hours of rebellion and insurrection of 1831 of killing nearly 60 whites that shed a turning point and heightened southern whites to strengthen and control their government and law.2 There was never an observation that the rebellion act of Nat Turner was due to the treatment of Black Slaves during that time. Treatment, that should have been illegal as well as should have been politically emancipated by government and law from the beginning of time. But instead, created a more malicious society towards Southern Blacks and even restricted the Northern Free Slaves to certain laws and rights.2 Even a free slave wasn’t free. The past years of enslavement and punishments have made a troubling impact on most modern-day African-Americans. It’s not a past that can go unseen. It’s a major part of history that still has its effects on the mind frame of this nation. This era of history remains a question of why are African-Americans still suffering a negative aftermath and discrimination that is biased because of skin color?

During the 19th century when slaves in parts of the nation were deemed as free, Black Americans were characterized by several racial terms by many White Americans that consisted of “darky” or even the term “colored.”  However, the term “Negro” was the most common.colored section.jpg

I remember when I was 10 years old living in Aurora, Colorado. I took my 6 year old brother to the playground at our nearby elementary school. Having the joyous time of our lives on the swing, a white family of three came over to the swings. Several minutes went by and my brother stated he was hungry so I took his hand and we begin walking home. “Thank God, those black kids are gone.”  The young white mother said these exact words under her breath. I stopped, I turned around, and I yelled, “That was a really racist thing to say.” Her husband laughed and continued to push their kids. The mother yelled back, “How was that racist?”

This is an example of a dialogue that displays an undertone or ignorance of insensitive remarks that are being conveyed and also viewed as racial slurs in the perspective of Black Americans today. This may not have been intentional, but utilizing the word “black kids” was a target of my brother and my skin color. One can argue that she may not have said anything wrong. However, I felt it was a racial remark at the time.

Many African-Americans are sensitive in these modern times and I believe it is due to not only the misinformation that Black Americans interpret socially but on another hand the profound knowledge of the African-American culture, past and present. Take the Dove Body Wash Soap advertisement for an example, On October 7, 2017, Dove released a commercial that viewed a Black woman utilizing Dove Body Wash Soap and showed that after usage of washing her skin, appeared was a White lady.6 The commercial caused an uproar within the African-American community.f2f0f49284ef7e205653abc87683bd7d.jpg

From another perspective, viewers would assume that there was no intentional racial remark advertised in releasing this commercial. However, many African-Americans viewed this as the color Black is considered being “dirty.” It was an undertone that again, may or may not have been an intentional racial advertisement, but to many African-Americans, it was insensitive and a direct target to skin color. “The short video was intended to convey that Dove body wash is for every woman and be a celebration of diversity, but we got it wrong……We missed the mark in representing women of color thoughtfully. We deeply regret the offense it caused.” The Dove Body Wash brand stated to Reuters.6

 

The Black American culture is becoming more and more dynamic and influential on the lines of identity. Black Americans are becoming more educated on African-American history as well as becoming more fearful, confident, and empowered by the influences of past and present Black American leaders. A lot of Black history is taught in Black American family homes. Taught to accept and love the melanin skin color.

Black Is.jpgAnd taught to embrace the heritage. I learned about racism and slavery at the age of 9. And it wasn’t to fear or hate White Americans, it was to be educated and possess gratitude for what my ancestors had gone through to allow me to be free today. Rosa Parks, an icon and activist during the Civil Rights Movement, changed the history of segregated buses in Montgomery, Alabama. Her courageous act changed America and its history.7 It was such a fulfillment and inspirational moment for me and many culturally diverse Americans to be able to meet her in person at the University of Colorado in 1996. That moment was more than just being proud of being an African-American, but being proud to see all races come together to witness and learn about a story of racial segregation and discrimination and encounter a true leader who was a major impact to U.S. History.Pic.jpg

Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Frederick Douglas, Thurgood Marshall, Madam C.J. Walker, Harriet Tubman, Nat Turner, James Baldwin, Sojourner Truth, Ida Wells, Booker T. Washington, and the evolves, of the many African American Leaders that have helped tremendously in shaping the laws and the nation as we know it, but not all Americans agree to press forward and be one nation under God. Some Americans would rather revert back to inhumanity and what is now illegal oppression and tyranny. And you can see the cruelty within the world today, with the constant hate crimes and direct misconduct against African-Americans.

“They are in effect still trapped in a history which they do not understand and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it.”8A Letter to My Nephew,” written by James Baldwin, which expressed his views of what black men will experience in the near future of U.S. History. Many White Americans will never truly comprehend the scope of the struggle of African-American History. They will never understand the movement and organization of, “Black Lives Matter” and why Black Americans march and protest due to racial profiling and our justice system being consistently unjust for cases like for Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Sandra Bland.9  Many White Americans will never understand why confederate statues, such as Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney,  are being removed from community or campus locations from U.S. territories, not realizing that he was a very malicious judge who had ruled, during the Dred Scott vs Sanford case in 1857, that African-Americans are not considered citizens of the United States.10 Many White American will never understand why NFL Quarterback player Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the National Anthem due to Black Americans continually being oppressed.11  Many cultures will not understand  the spectrum of why Black History Month is the full month of February which was inspired by the history of what was called “Negro History Week,” started in 1926 by Carter G. Woodson an American Historian and Educator.14 And lastly, what the holiday celebration of Juneteenth means to African-Americans, which indicates the celebration of the emancipation and abolishment of slavery in Galveston, TX on June 19th 1865.15

American Citizens, History, and The United States have come a long way. Devoted years of fighting in the Civil War was the redemption of the North And South Americans, white and black, whether slave or master, coming together as one to be a nation. I don’t think not one American Citizen thought they would see the day that Barack Obama, an African-American President, would hold office and step foot in the White House from 2009-2017, that was built by Black slaves in 1792.12  As Berlin describes, The emancipation was a long process. African-Americans asked for nothing more than to have full rights and universal freedom which is owed to them.13 Even after fighting a nation’s war, the Reconstruction policy still alienated slaves. The Jim Crow law and Black Codes was established to make sure that Whites were superior and more privileged than a Southern Black Freedmen and segregation brought violence which became an unequal living standard.2 The transition into “all men are created equal,” was definitely not a smooth transition.Smithsonian.jpg

It is until more African-American history is being taught and understood in American homes and schools that many White Americans will remain to be inferior to African-Americans. Instead of moving forward in history, African-Americans will always be reminded of the struggling past of Black ancestors and the healing will be everlasting. Formulated groups are still pushing for society to go back in time and operate the nation as it was post-slavery.  I will never comprehend the mission of White supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan. For these hate groups to have been formulated in 1868 and still carry on the terrorism in 2017, will never be understood as to why black suffrage is so important to these type of groups. These groups are still present and being taught generations after generations of continuous hate and to prolong the political violence and hostility against Blacks.2 Skin color will always divide the American Citizens. And as a Black Woman, I am free, but I don’t feel confident in stating that I am equal to all American citizens in the United States.

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