February is one of my favorite times of the month. No, it isn’t because of Valentine’s Day. I’d pay good money to see Cupid take an arrow to the knee. What I like most about February is it’s celebration of black history.
This post is a bit overdue because I wasn’t sure what to talk about in honor of black history month. At first I was torn between writing about the African clothing called the “dashiki” or to celebrate black writers such as James Baldwin and Maya Angelou. When I couldn’t choose between the two, a third option came to mind- my roles as a black man. What are those roles?
Knowing my history. Thanks to ancestry.com I know my roots, and I can research more about what life was like in the motherland(Africa) before my ancestors were yanked away from it. I will remember lost youth such as Emmett Till, a victim of lynching in 1965; the four girls bombed in a Birmingham church in 1963; and of course Trayvon Martin, whose fateful night in 2012 continues to be met with facts, speculation, and outrage. My ears will hear the echoing voices of influential people such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X , and former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Being intelligent. I am proud to say that I finished school. The week of my college graduation, myself and other black students were recognized by the APSU African American Alumni Chapter for our hard work and dedication. During graduation, I felt truly honored to walk across that stage in the APSU Dunn Center wearing a stole with the African colors green, gold, red, and black. While I don’t quite have my ideal job, those years I spent at Austin Peay State University were worth it in my opinion. There is nothing wrong with being educated. Don’t let anyone tell you that education is a waste of time. These days employers do care of you have school experience on your resume.
Staying out of trouble My Facebook feed is bouncing with crime logs every day. A record seems like a life sentence if you ask me. You may not be in a cell, but what happens when you have background checks when applying for jobs? Some employers are going to notice that one thing you did however long ago and ignore your positive qualifications. This can be twice as challenging for African American males with records. Why, because this is America, and racism is still alive and well. Some people try to be sneaky with their hate, and others, such as the Ku Klux Klan, are open about it. To those struggling to find work due to past crimes, I pray someone hires you, because who doesn’t love to make money? And to those who have been charged for crimes they didn’t do, I pray God will bring your innocence to the judge and juries of this world. Remember, God is the ultimate judge.
Staying alive. It breaks my heart everyday to see so many African Americans perish from violence such as police brutality. Nowadays, I am very careful to always have my license on me and my registration in the car in case I get pulled over. When it happens I intend to calm my speaking to where I’m not stammering as much and not make any wrong movements. These days it seems officers are more quick to fire a gun at a so-called dangerous black person(man in particular) than at someone with a lighter complexion. According to a study of the American Journal of Public health, “black men are nearly three times as likely to be killed by legal intervention than white men”(“Study: Black men nearly 3 times as likely to die from police use of force.”).
- As hard as I work now, I will push myself just as hard to provide for my wife, should I ever get married.
- Every marriage is going to have times when you won’t want to be in the same room with your spouse. During those times, I pray my first option will not be to look to the next pair of fine legs that comes my way.
- If I do ever get angry, I will not lay a hand on my better half. These hands of mine were made for defense, writing, hard work, and prayer.
- I will treat her as a person and not a piece of property.
- Welcome God into the marriage so it can grow and last.
Hopefully, whoever I end up with feels the same way, because an unequally yoked marriage is sure to crumble.
Being a good father. I think I have an amazing dad. His name is Michael H. Harris. Growing up I had my little gripes about him in my head, but looking back the way he brought me up wasn’t bad. He was Dad; not some peer to buddy around with and let me do whatever I want. I think my other three siblings can oblige that Dad did a good job with us. Here’s to hoping I can take some of what I learned from him and pass it on.
If I do ever have a child I intend to not abandon my responsibilities. It blows my mind at those men who can willingly turn their nose up at their own flesh and blood; something you helped create. I understand some men can’t work things out with their partner, but if you can’t establish a relationship with the woman, then the very least you can do is provide for the child and be present in their life if you can.
Being more than my color. I am proud to be an African American. I love my Hershey’s chocolate skin. But just like my speech, my skin color does not define me. Three things define me- my God, character, and actions. I encourage everyone to be more than what is in their blood. Strive to be a human being, because sometimes we tend to forget we are just that.
To my brothers of the black community, I hope you all took something from this. To all, I wish you all have a Happy Black History Month. As always, God bless!
“Study: Black men nearly 3 times as likely to die from police use of force.” CNN. Cable News Network, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.