When I was a child, the celebration of Black History Month was such a big deal. We spent the month of February discovering wonderful things about the achievements of individuals within the black culture.

For me, learning about people who looked liked me was an incredible and enjoyable experience. In a time when it wasn’t exactly the coolest thing to be of African-American decent, this month gave us the ability to dream and to envision ourselves as something great in our future.

However, something has gone terribly wrong with the pride that was once held in being black. Something has stalled the experience and stifled the communication of what it means to have respect and love for self.

As I look around, I see more and more evidence of how we have come to disrespect self, disregard self and simply misuse the beauty of being black. Maybe the time has passed for the education of black achievement for some. However, the 21st century is calling strongly for a revamp of what was once important and exciting to young black minds.

Tell me exactly how we can forge into the future successfully when we don’t think it’s important to educate ourselves with the success and failures of the past. After all, it is only because of the struggles that formed the past that we are able to move forward into our futures with such ease and without much thought. The struggle to survive was fought in the past, and now the current generation has started taking advantage of that struggle but without the respect that the struggle deserves.

I overheard a young black adult say the other day, “Who cares what the people in the past did? This is the future, we don’t care about that.” It broke my heart into many pieces because the one thing that was important in the struggle to become free and to remain free was respect; for one another as well as for the struggle. My reply to this misled individual was simply this:

Where do you think the state of the black community would be if people like Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Rosa Parks and the many others who sacrificed their lives to ensure a better future for those who would come after them didn’t think the struggle to be free, to be respected, to be counted, was worth it?

How do we know where we are going if it is never important where the journey began?

How can we effectively know who we are if we don’t think it’s important to understand who and what assisted us in becoming the black culture that we can be proud of?

How can we efficiently build on a positive future when we hold the past in such disdain?

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