In the course of ~27 days only the surface has been scratched — external and historical barriers, intra-community dynamics and unique cultural aspects. The final post of this series falling just shy of a month (because February) is going to pay homage to “lemonade.” From some very ugly seeds something delightful can be born.

I might even venture to say that lemonade — bitter lemons, sweet sugar, ice and water — is the source of both #blackgirlmagic and #blackboyjoy.

But I don’t want to paint a rosy picture of the past or pretend that the future is not (or won’t be) as scary. Context matters. History matters. Understanding that “black pride” (contextually, historically) is a necessary reaction and mechanism to make sense of a legacy that is complex. Similarly, #blackexcellence is a very necessary celebration after periods of being hidden figures.

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So here’s what to do in order to move forward meaningfully: get in-formation.

  • Learn: Be curious to learn about cultures not your own.
  • Befriend: Develop meaningful friendships and have tough conversations with people who don’t look like you. Make sure your kids have a diverse group of friends
  • Investigate: If you are a parent, inquire about what your children are learning in school and remind teachers about any gaps (e.g. learning about Native American and non-Western European perspectives and voices) and ask the friends you’ve now made what they feel they *have* to teach their children at home (e.g. how not to be shot by a police officer or to have “respectable” hair)
  • Advocate: If you are in a homogenous group, don’t be afraid to advocate for those not in the room — because they weren’t invited, don’t have a pathway to get there, etc. Play devil’s advocate if you must, but speaking up is the first step.
  • Act: Too many surveys come out that indicate what people say they want (more integrated communities, diverse work places, etc) is not matched by what the data shows (neighborhoods are becoming more segregated, schools are becoming less diverse). At some point your actions will matter more than safety pins, Facebook statuses, number of friends who don’t look like you, number of people you’ve been intimate with that don’t look like you…

All of the above is not necessarily focused on one race doing more of X, but it’s a good approach to building empathy and mobilizing for real change. More info here: http://mashable.com/2016/03/26/social-justice-get-involved/…

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Beyonce’s “Lemonade” was the source of inspiration for today for a few reasons — the most important being that you need to know where you come from (black women) to know here you are going!

I really wanted to be petty and talk about those who have handed back their black cards (OJ, Clarence Thomas), put their cards under review (Stacey Dash, Cam Newton) and sought a card but meet none of the requirements (Rachel). And I would have had as much fun being shady about the 5 people above as Beyonce had carrying hot sauce through the streets.

So I decided to think back to how I felt on February 6th, 2016 the day “Formation” was released. I was as beside myself then as I am on any given day that I get to express my #blackboyjoy. The images in the video were iconic, inspiring and thought-provoking. And on February 7th, 2016 Bey honored both Michael Jackson and the 50th anniversary of the Black Panther Party with her Superbowl 50 performance.

Beyonce is my official artist of Black History Month (my day 28). She elevates the community by using her platform (advocacy). She highlights black art and artists across the diaspora (building internal bridges). She is building an empire of empowerment for women and minorities (lifting as she climbs). She is sets an impossibly high bar and inspires globally and across all demographics (she is the epitome of #blackexcellence).

And let us not forget…Beyonce is so rich and privileged, she doesn’t need to do any of this yet she does it #fortheculture #fortheancestors and for the money to keep uplifting the community.

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Black History* is United States History. Black History* is 365 days a year. February* need not be the only time to remember this!

Can’t wait to read about Women’s History Month (March), Asian Heritage Month (May), LGBT Pride Month (June), Hispanic Heritage Month (Sep 15 — Oct 15) and Native American Indian Heritage Month (November). *Same goes for these months being 365 and integral to United States History.

Part of a 28-day series of reflections, stories and feelings for Black History Month 2017. Read all parts (here).

My first words: but why though? | Biting my tongue requires daily reminders | Unapologetically me https://linktr.ee/alterrellmfmills