Many people have noticed that when Black History Month comes around, or an event that highlights people of color in any community I might be in, I become quite silent on the matter. I’ve gotten quite a bit of flak because I simply do not speak up around these times.
I have absolutely no idea what it is like to be black. I’m also not Indian, or Asian. My cultural experiences have not included being segregated because I had a different skin tone than anyone else. Because of this, I relegate my participation in these events to passing along the voices that need to be heard. My job is simply to listen and consider what the people who have the experience have to say. To publicize the fact that they are saying it, and to think about my behavior and actions in relation to people of color.
I too, have in the past, had the emotion of indignation when I thought, “Well, why not have a white history month?” But when I watch the news, I see that my history is already well documented. It’s people of color who are getting shot before they can speak, it’s people of color who are being disenfranchised when they go to vote. We might have a black president, but black children are still being forced to leave private schools because they are black.
My history is well celebrated, but what about the programmers, the scientists, the researchers, the innovators, and the champions, and all the people that are not white? It’s not my time to speak at these events, it’s my time to learn. It’s my time to listen.
I don’t know what it is, being black, but I can listen to the people who do know.