A Journey to Appreciate Our History
I will admit that in the past, when I saw white people condemning, Iggy Azalea and the Kardashians for cultural appropriation or racism, I would
get a little annoyed. Not because I felt the need to defend the celebrities, but because it seemed like many were only speaking out because it was “trendy”.
However, the recent responses to #oscarssowhite, Stacey Dash, and Beyonce’s recent performances, have really made me rethink how I view allyship, and black History Month in general.
Like most black young adults, I grew up learning very little about black history in school. The only occasion I would have had to learn about my history was through electives, or a very short chapter in a textbook. And growing up in the South, I certainly wasn’t even guaranteed that chapter. Because I was denied a strong foundation in this subject, learning about my own history always seemed like “extra work.” And truthfully, I still have to work to undo this mindset. When I began to take this into account, I realized that no one of any race should be held at fault for not knowing much black history, because we were essentially taught that it wasn’t all that important, in school. Instead we should only be faulted when we’re unwilling to listen and learn.
That’s why these major media events like Beyonce’s performance and the Oscars backlash matter so much. They help us connect our present with our past history. And they allow the world to see that unfortunately, discrimination isn’t frozen in the past.
If you are someone who is skeptical about the importance of black representation in media, I ask you these questions:
Do you know what it means to young black people to have someone stand up at the Super Bowl and raise a fist of power?
Do you know what it means to have someone stand up and say that our natural features are not only good enough, but beautiful?
Do you know how powerful it is to have the entire young Black community (for the most part) come together and tell a black celebrity and a respected media establishment that our representation does, in fact, matter?
This is why I now welcome respectful allyship. I welcome potential allies to take a look at what Beyonce is doing right, and what Stacey Dash and the Oscars are doing wrong, and realize why we, as black people, are so adamant about our history being shared accurately. Although black History Month, is made for and by us, the conversations it opens up are most certainly for everyone’s ears.