These challenges have been going on for years; and what looking back at history allows us to do is gain understanding of the context in which some of these systematic hurdles were constructed.
And in that understanding, gain insight into what can be done to circumvent them.
Not in the sense that it was a narrative inherent to the past of my ancestors, but rather a history that I had inherited and come to appreciate through an adoption of seemingly shared circumstances.
What I mean by ‘shared circumstances’ is that here in the United States, whether you’re a first generation Nigerian-American, Ghanaian-American, Caribbean-American or any other race in the Afro-diaspora that is now living in the “land of the free,” to most, you’re simply considered “black.” Rarely is the distinction made between a kid whose parents moved here from Jamaica in the late 80s and a kid whose ancestors were brought here as slaves in the early 1700s.
One can see incidents on the news when unarmed African Americans are shot in the back and killed by police, while heavily-armed white Americans are permitted to take over federal land and buildings unmolested by state or federal police authorities.
It can be seen in high schools across the nation when white high school girls think it is cute or fun to arrange their shirts to say the “N word” and pose for photographs.
Woodson, Alex Haley, Michele Alexander and historical expositions of topics like the Jim Crow era, the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Wall Street, etc.
It was because, in a way, I felt that it was a part of my history as well.
Imagine going your whole life not knowing the lineage of overcomers you came from, oblivious to the fact that time and time again, our people have been resilient enough to look insurmountable adversity in the eyes and conquer it.
Imagine going through your adolescent years unaware of the number of others from similar economically drained communities and resource starved schools that found their way into opportunities beyond their wildest dreams.