Hey Y’all! I often hear people say that “history doesn’t matter” or, “don’t stay stuck in the past”. That narrative is often posed to Black people, trying to gaslight us into forgetting our past, the good and the bad. If we say “we were queens and kings”, someone will say, “well we aren’t now”; if we say “we were enslaved and we are owed reparations”, someone will say “well we aren’t slaves now”. The point is, all of our history matters, why?
Well, there is nothing new under the sun. I remember living in Namibia and them teaching me the importance of hairstyles. Braided hairstyles on both women and men could tell the person’s age and status, along with jewelry and markings that furthered these symbols (widow, wife, etc.). There was a particular hairstyle that was designated for little boys, it was two braids, braided towards the front or the back with the rest of the head shaved off. I remember coming back to the US, and 2 years later, that style becoming popular over here with the men. I told someone one day that their hairstyle is symbolic to Himba culture in Namibia and they laughed. Again, if we knew what a lot of the things we do mean, we would not take them so lightly. What if they knew that their hairstyle was a symbol of boyhood, and the next level hairstyle represented manhood, or even that it identified the tribe they were from? He could either wear it with pride, or wear the hairstyle that represents his status as a man! Through enslavement, all these identifiers were taken from us, and that part is important too! However, the fact that the royalty still found its way into the diaspora even through enslavement is why it matters, because we can still celebrate and live out our royalty, building on the legacy of the ancestors, even though some feel like they are doomed, and there’s still work to do…
I always get excited when I find cultural similarities between the diaspora, it’s the sociologist in me, but I find that others do not care. As I stated yesterday, freed Africans purchased their own land in Texas to even be able to celebrate Juneteenth in peace without being harassed for being on “white property”. Now, we are still being harassed on land that belongs to all of us, and in the spaces where we celebrate ourselves, we are not really living out the true meaning of these holidays and celebrations. Not that it has to be 100% serious, but we should always use these spaces to educate and edify and empower. There’s always the 1 Black person at the cookout who wants to celebrate blackness and teach everyone there, everything they know (I’ve been that person), but they get laughed at or told “this is not a Harriet Tubman moment” , you know what I’m talking about and you know I’m not lying. We always have people trying to remind us, but because of brainwashing, we are told to forget, or laughed at…. our origins matter!
So, this weekend, as you celebrate Juneteenth, and every other holiday for us, be sure to use those moments to be that person, whether laughed at or not. Educate, edify, and empower, trust me, they are listening!