What Every Black Person Should Be Doing Today Terri February 29, 2016 2 Comments As Black History Month comes to a close, I’ve accepted the personal challenge to study, embrace and share Black History year-round. After all, Mocha Girls Pit Stop was created to be a space where “women of color refuel on motivation and ignite their lives.” And what better way to be inspired than to be galvanized by the unfading strength of our resilient ancestors. I truly believe that one’s path can be made clear once she knows her history. When you know that you descended from greatness, from Kings and Queens, from royalty, you tend to walk with your head held high despite racism and oppression. This is probably one of the first moments in my life that I realized just how rich my history is. Sure I learned about a few historical heroes in school and by “a few”, I mean just that… maybe three: Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Frederick Douglass. Well, there is one exception, I attended a predominately black middle school for 2 years and learned more about black history there, than I have in every other educational setting, the collegiate realm included. But forreal forreal, when I look back on my holistic educational experience, I feel robbed. My people were often misrepresented, underrepresented and as I restudy my history as an adult, I have a boatload of mixed feelings. Anger, hurt, confusion, just to name a few. In honor of Black History Month I interviewed Tariq Nasheed, a New York Times Bestselling author, film producer and media personality. You may know him from his successful black history documentary, Hidden Colors. After following the work of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, Martin Luther King Jr., the Black Panther Party, Tariq Nasheed, Dr. Umar Johnson, Dr. Claud Anderson and a host of other black heroes, I saw a common theme: Consciousness without action is pointless. We live in a world where it’s cool to be conscious and deep. We do research, we learn about our history, we rattle off historical dates but then what? What actions are we taking to contribute to the empowerment of our people? When I asked myself this question, I felt hopeless. What can I possibly do to impact my community? The great thing is, there’s enough work to go around and we can start with baby steps that gradually lead to big results. Below are a few action steps that Black people can start taking TODAY to empower the black community and contribute to the uplift of the race. Complaining, roiting or retweeting a profound black empowerment quote just won’t do it. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke What Every Black Person Should Be Doing Today to Uplift the Race 1. Acknowledge the system we live in and decide what role you’ll play in ending it The term “white supremacy” has been trending online these days. When I first heard it, I tried to stay far away from it hoping to escape the radical connotation that comes along with it. But then I did some research. In a nutshell, white supremacy is “the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should therefore dominate society.” One who believes in white supremacy is a white supremacist. “White supremacy is comprised of habits, actions and beliefs. It is not necessarily reliant on the specific intentions of its actors, practitioners or beneficiaries. Of course, there are “active” racists whose intentions, words, and deeds are meant to advance a racist agenda. However, implicit and subconscious bias, as well as taken for granted stereotypes and “common sense,” can also serve a white supremacist order.” So how does white supremacy and white privilege affect you as a black person? I’m so glad you asked. The systems and institutions in our country were built by white people for white people and white people benefit tremendously from these systems. This means that life for you, life for us, isn’t a fair game. “Why was the median net worth of White families in 2013 (~$142,000) 13 times higher than African American families (~$11,000) and 10 times higher than Latino families (~$13,700)? Why are African Americans and Latinos disproportionately incarcerated? Why are so few Fortune 500 CEOs people of color?” Because we live in a system of white supremacy. This is not to say that all white people are bad or that all black people are good. Acknowledging white supremacy and white privilege is recognizing the fact that we live in a system built for the advancement of white people. So now that we know this, what can we do about it to empower our race and create more opportunities and educational systems that will enable us to advance like the dominant society has. 2. Acknowledge Colorism and Advocate Against It Colorism is alive and well in the Black community. Colorism can be defined “as internalized racism and white supremacy within the Black community and other communities of color.” Discriminating against individuals with a darker skin tone further divides our communities and makes us powerless against the system of white supremacy. A house or group divided can not stand. When you hear others in our community using colorist slurs like oreo, high yellow, redbone, midnight, monkey, etc… look at it as an educational moment to inform them of where colorism came from and how colorism perpetuates white supremacy. 3. Be and Create the Change You Want to See in the World There’s a lot of whining going on in our community. We b*tch and moan about the lack of diversity at the Oscars, the lack of black images on a simple Google search for brides, but we must do more than whine and pout. The fact that we realize the disparities and we converse about them is great but let’s actually do something about it. Let’s create what we want to see. Imagine if we came together and created our own social network, our own search engines, our own system that will represent us? We can’t keep seeking validation from a system that isn’t meant to advance our people. Have you done a Google search and found that you aren’t represented fairly? I have. When searching for hairstyles, outfits, wedding ideas etc… I was disappointed and disheartened to see all the images of black people pushed to the back, if we were lucky enough to have it listed…so what do we do? Pick up a camera, create a stock photography website and display black people in a positive light. Every change we’d like to see won’t be this easy but if we begin to value action over talking, we’ll see results faster. 4. Stop Sharing Unflattering Images of Black People on Social Media Let me preface this by saying, I get it. Sex sells and drama is entertaining, but please… can we stop sharing images of black girls twerking, black kids fighting, black kids smoking and doing other silly things on social? Maybe if we change our standard of entertainment and ignore the urge to push that share button when we see “black rachetness,” maybe then, black excellence can live on and go viral. What does sharing “black rachetness” do for us? Perpetuates the myth that black people are second class citizens and fuels the media’s agenda to dismantle our reputation. Don’t believe me? Just watch the news when they’re reporting the murder of a black person, specifically when killed by the police. They will criminalize the victim and diagnose or victimize the perpetrator. Think twice before you share and ask yourself, how will this uplift my people? 5. Do Your Research and Relearn Your History If you’re anything like me, you depended primarily on modern day education for your understanding of black history. Considering that we live in a system of white supremacy do you really think that what we were taught in school in the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Of course not. Over the past few months I’ve been doing my own research on black history, how we got to where we are today and theories detailing what we must do in order to advance our people. Here are a few great starting points and must-see topics for your personal study. The Mis-Education of the Negro by Dr. Carter G. Woodson (book) The Hidden Colors series by Tariq Nasheed (documentary) The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution by Stanley Nelson – PBS (documentary) Mansa Musa (research him, he was the richest person ever and was a black man) Marcus Garvey The Story of Black Wall Street (research this) Africa Before Slavery Slavery in America (research this) This list is by no means exhaustive but it’s a great place to start. My hope is not to tell you what to think but to present ideas that can spark up a conversation in our community. As I continue to study I read with an open-mind and I come up with my own conclusions based on my research. Question everything and ask God for a spirit of discernment as you embark on your journey. In the words of Dr. Umar Johnson, “Consciousness means just that, you are aware of what’s going on. Being conscious is the first step to transformation. This doesn’t say that you want to change anything based on what you know. We need to be an activist community. The information isn’t going to save us. Nothing changes until you organize, energize and mobilize.” Don’t exchange activism for information. Consciousness without action is futile. What do you believe black people need to do to uplift the race? Share below. Terri Lomax Thanks so much for reading! That’s right lady. I’d love to hear more about your magazine. Tell me more 🙂 Mariëlle Loved it! I’m going into Bak consciousness one babystep at a time. But I’ve decided to ‘be the change I’d like to see in the world’ by creating a mindstyle magazine for women of color and by educating my daughter on our history. Because the version we get at school is very simplistic and doesn’t show the complexity of those times and how we, after so many generations, are still affected today.