By Tekisha Rice
It’s kind of amazing that in 2019 we still hear the sentence “[insert Black person’s name] is the first African American to [insert activity, honor, or achievement].” By “amazing” I mean two things. First, phenomenal. Like WOW, shout out to you for being a representation of all that Black folks can do in a world that constantly questions the legitimacy of our presence and talents. Second, really? Like…REALLY!? How could the system of oppression be so effective, so ingrained in society that in 2019 we are still celebrating firsts?
Growing up in the South, I had daily interactions with Black History and it was very much about history. But the truth of the matter is that Black History lives today, right now, in this very moment. We saw it on Sunday when Hanna Beachler, Regina King, Ruth Carter, were recognized for their respective firsts and chances are good that today, the last day of Black History Month 2019, we could see more firsts.
We live in the age of young Black professionals. We aren’t just getting seats at tables, we’re building our own. For many of us, we are the firsts in our own niche. First to graduate college, live somewhere other than our hometown, travel abroad, or build wealth that lasts generations. Some of us may not even know it, but those of us who are aware carry the pressure and pride of earlier generations with us everywhere we go. Doing so can motivate you like nothing else in this world, but it can also swallow you whole – so don’t forget to also be among the first to put yourself on a pedestal and ensure your mental, physical, and spiritual needs are met so that you can blaze the trail as your whole self.
We often hear people say “every day is Black History Day!” That’s true because of you. I see you. We honor those who came before us and we celebrate daily because Black History Lives.
Tekisha Rice is a contributing writer for The Pedestal Project, LLC.