Racial Equity

Black history, Black grief: Reflections on the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder


This past February, I was asked about my plans to celebrate Black History Month. Honestly, I struggled to find an answer that felt appropriate as I grieved. I know how important it is to honor and appreciate the many Black leaders, known and unknown, that came before me. I know how much Black History Month means to my community, my ancestors and my family – but it’s difficult to celebrate when racial injustice and anti-Blackness is so pervasive. Not much has changed for my Black people, our Black people, my/ our Black people since the Civil Rights era. It’s difficult to celebrate when I can still see images from police cameras when I close my eyes. It’s difficult to celebrate when I am constantly overwhelmed with thoughts about who is next… Will it be me? Will it be someone I love? 

As I acknowledge my grief, I also recognize my consistent state of reflection. Today, I mourn for George Floyd and my/ our Black people who were lynched, killed and murdered. Today, I mourn for my/ our Black people who consistently experience racism, discrimination and bias. Today, I mourn for my/ our Black communities who have been segregated, ignored and devalued.

Today, I work even harder to ensure that our communities are places of opportunity where identity, race, ethnicity and zip code do not determine how someone is treated or predict their life outcomes. Today, I work even harder to transform societal structures into ones that affirm the inherent value of all people. Today, I heal through engaging with my/ our community, my/ our activism and my/ our expression.

And today is the day that I begin to celebrate Black History Month every day. 

I am Black History Month in America

I have existed since the beginning of humankind.
Born from the land you call Africa, intricately woven into time.
1619, 1865, 1896, 1915, 1964, 1976 –
Time does not define me (us). I (we) define time. 

Time is when America remembers me, but –
My people have always known that I have no boundaries.
I am them and they are me. I am, we (ubuntu).
We exist everywhere and we exist nowhere. 

Drowned by the tears of resistance and resilience,
Our hearts beat as a steady rhythm in life’s symphony.
A cacophony of voices singing our struggles and triumphs –
Still dreaming. Still marching. Still waiting. 

Yesterday’s sorrow is still today’s grief.
Concrete jungles are stained with the blood of the innocent.
Our history is rewritten, weaponized and celebrated.
Our fingerprints are well-known and erased.

And, still we rise while mourning behind smiling masks with hollow eyes.

We know we’re not alone, but warm embraces bring little comfort.
We know the advocates, activists and allies.
They are our brothers and sisters –
More voices to the voiceless, faces to faceless and hope to the hopeless.

We reach for hope’s hand while hearing its whisper in the wind.
We yell into the void, “tomorrow can be different”
Will you hear?
Will you understand?

Is anyone listening? 

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