Black History Month is a confusing time for the white-passing daughter of a black man.
What am I supposed to claim? Should I claim anything at all? Is the act of proudly claiming my background, telling the tale of my black father, and grandfather, and great-grandfather, appropriating and overstepping into lifetimes of resilience that I will never understand?
I don’t know the answer to these questions. However, I don’t think I’m in the place to claim Black History Month. I am only in the place to listen. That is the place of non-black people in February.
Listen to Danez Smith when he tells us he searches for darker planets, planets with the soil as dark as his skin, where the colour of his skin won’t lead him to eternal doom and won’t be corrupted. Listen to Porsha Olayiwola when she tells the infuriating tale of black people’s relation to water, to the Atlantic Ocean, to Hurricane Katrina. To Christopher Michael and Jasmine Mans who remind us of all the black tears shed in the 16th Street Baptist Church. To Chucky Black, when he exposes to us the ethereal nature of Black Magic, the ability to turn nothing into something beautiful and coveted. Listen to Malcolm X. To MLK Jr. To Angela Davis. To Kathleen Cleaver. To Audre Lorde. To Toni Morrison. To Desmond Cole. To Anthony Morgan. To Elijah McCoy. To Josiah Henson. Listen. Listen. Listen to Black voices.
Shut up, and uplift black voices. Sit down, and rise black bodies up. And do this repeatedly. Until black people are recognized for their contributions to our countries, to our cultures. Until there is justice. Until every month is Black History Month.
By Natalia Ibañez