“People pay for what they do and still more for what they allowed themselves to become. And they pay for it very simply; by the lives they lead”. James Bladwin (1924-1987)
We rarely question what makes us behave the way we behave. We, as the African American community for the most part are simply living life day to day. If this was not so, the images of us would not so broadly lean toward the negative. We as a community would not be simply “getting by” but focused on our everyday impact on society. We would consciously live in the present to better shape the history of tomorrow. As we move toward Black History month, we must look at all that has happened in the resent years and what they will mean to us in the future and centuries to come. How legacies and the making of such should be a motivating factor to the youth and our guarantee of success in our communities.
As a young woman of Haitian decent, it is important for me to understand my similarities to those that I share a history with as well as strengths, desires and current obstacles.
Looking back at the civil rights era and what motivated people of that time to take part and move forth in a mission that has had lifelong impacts on our world today is as important as all the determining factors in the success of the future before us.
Asking the pressing questions like, what inner desire for freedom and equality led our forefathers to decide that the mistreatment of Blacks was not only morally improper but also unlawful? Was it the ever remaining forces of the souls of our ancestors that hover over us and connect with us in song and dream that guided us? What happened to that force? When did mediocrity or less become something to be satisfied with or better yet the norm? Has this been the result of what has been done to us or what we have allowed to be done to us?
As a people we have the ability to use our history as a map as well as a reminder of just how much we are capable of overcoming.
Perhaps when the month of February is seen to us simply as another passing month to continue to focus on our heritage, then maybe we will regain the driving force to stay committed to be more and do more. It is only then that the stories of crime, disease, and poverty not be used synonymously with the description of us and no longer be a belief of those that do not look like us but to those who do as well. Then and only then we will begin to understand why we are who we are and more personally, why I am I.
Shirley Thimothee-Paul MSN, RN is a member of the Greater Fort Lauderdale chapter of the National Black Nurses Association.