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Written by Tirzah Thomas, this special edition list examines how action against racism can be taken through being conscious of your social behavior.
As Black History Month is coming to an end, it is vital to recognize the struggles of African Americans. Black people obviously go through political and economic discrimination, but what could help strengthen or help break an African American is the experience of social discrimination and ignorance. It is not necessarily anyone’s fault if they are ignorant but they are to blame if they decide to reject being educated in Black issues and therefore choosing to be ignorant. Nevertheless, here are two examples of social situations in which African Americans are discriminated against.
The Use of the N- word
Black people do have the right to freely use the N- word. That is a fact. It shows how African Americans were able to reclaim the word that was used to wrongfully describe their ancestors. But on the other hand, non-black people do not have the right to use the N- word. Before, the N- word was used to call slaves instead of using their names. In this day and age Black people are not slaves to call. So the N- word should not be used by the same people whose ancestors terrorized African Americans. It's also not enough to just not say the N-word. If you do hear someone who is not black using the N- word, you should attempt to educate them and explain to them why they are wrong for using the N- word. Tell them they need to stop using the word and if they continue you should report them to someone with more authority.
Dealing with Black Hair
Many Black peoples do not have straight hair that people are so used to seeing. Instead they have kinky, curly, coily hair. There are different processes that go into taking care of Black hair and they may be processes that some are not used to experiencing. Although you may not be familiar with the way African Americans style or care for their hair, you should be aware of the fact that Black hair is not a zoo animal where you get up close and inspect. In addition to the fact that Black people have to deal with people nonconsensually touching their hair, they are often pressured to chemically damage their hair in a professional setting to maintain a “professional” look. Black people are often told or have had people “suggest” that they should straighten their hair. Black hair is extremely sensitive towards heat and it is not healthy for an African American to straighten their hair constantly. A hair texture is not unprofessional. What is actually unprofessional is suggesting for others to harm their health in order to receive an education or their paycheck. This does not only happen in workplaces, but also in schools. Black students have been told that they can not come into school or school events with protective styling such as braids or afros. This is an issue because close minded people can not accept others who embrace their self. All types of hair are beautiful. When you witness an African American being discriminated for their hair, you should once again, educate the one that is discriminating and then you should report them if they choose to be ignorant.
These are only a few issues that Black people may have to deal with on a daily basis. But they are situations that stand as a life changing moment. That moment is often when African Americans understand the differences between races. They begin to understand the different treatment, different behavior, different features and, many more differences. This moment usually happens at a young age but does not stop developing at that age. You can not really do anything when that moment occurs. But while it is developing, do not try to tell them that their noticings are all in their head. Those are the moments when Black people can understand the reason for different treatment, which all boils down to how much melanin African Americans carry in their skin. Once they notice the problem, they can try to make a change and figure out a solution. That is why it is essential for Black people to understand the inequalities they will experience.
Black History Month is the month of recognition. Recognition of the struggles, recognition of the victories and, most importantly recognition of the unity that causes empowerment. Although Black History Month is unfortunately coming to an end it does not mean that the recognition and acknowledgement should come to an end as well, instead it should only be the beginning. Happy Black History Month!
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