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It can hardly be disputed that Black people celebrate just about everything, and we don’t just celebrate, we brand it – Black love, Black success, Black business, Black education, Black fatherhood, Black motherhood, Black girl magic, Black television, Black music, Black literature, Black everything. As you read this, you may be thinking, “Okay, we get it.” If that is your reaction, then perhaps you don’t. Perhaps you do not understand why we celebrate as we do.
During slavery, Black people had nothing; in fact, we were considered to be nothing. We were not even viewed as human beings. The only thing that we were considered to be was property owned by our slave owners to do as they wished. Even after slavery was abolished, and in later generations, the perception of Black people as being “lesser than” persisted and permeated society. Hence, there was segregation. Today, we may no longer be described as “property,” but in many ways, we are still not viewed as equal.
Black people have had to fight for everything that we have – the right to love freely, the right to own businesses and property, the right to a high standard of education, the right to a high-level job, the right to vote, the right to sit where we want on a bus, the right to use any bathroom we choose, the right to enter any restaurant, the right to enter any building through the front door. These things that are considered mundane, every day, normal, human activities, are things that we as Black people had to fight for. Not only did we have to fight for them, but many of our ancestors had to die for us to have those “privileges.” That is why we celebrate everything that we achieve. If you have never been denied, then it is unlikely that you will have cause to celebrate.
Have you ever considered why slavery was so effective and lasted so long? It was the use of fear and the targeted effort to always remind us of our place in society. Every tactic used to control Black people – whipping, lynching, segregation, denial of the right to vote, denial of the right to go to school – had this as the primary purpose. The denial of our rights or humanity is how we have been suppressed. The effect of this sustained effort to suppress Black people was mental slavery.
Marcus Mosiah Garvey, pan-Africanist and Black nationalist, said, “The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind.” Marcus Garvey recognized that, as a people, we were not allowed to develop and use our minds and so, we were not just physical slaves, we became mental slaves. That is how we remained in bondage and that is how slavery continued, even after it was abolished. Marcus Garvey and Bob Marley, therefore, called on us to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, “none but ourselves can free our minds.” It was up to us.
History has dealt us a raw deal, but we are the only ones who can emancipate ourselves from the effects of those experiences and that is exactly what we have been doing. When we see successful Black businesses, Black scholars, Black professionals, Black athletes, these stand as evidence that we are succeeding in our emancipation. Though we still fight, we are continuing to push against the tide to ensure that our place in society is never again beneath anyone or anything else. So, when we see the fruits of our labour, we rejoice.
That is why we celebrate everything!
New 2021 Virtual Workshop Schedule – Now Available!
Our 2021 workplace investigation workshop schedule is now available on our website. Click here to view our courses and register today!