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  • Staci Sweet

Ignorant of Black History

Last week, August 22nd, while watching a PBS Special, The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, I realized how IGNORANT I was, and I mean that in the realest sense. It’s not that I didn’t know African American history exists, it’s because I refused to pay attention. I IGNORED it. In school, I learned what was needed to pass and over the years, I only found interest in what was applicable at the time. But I must admit, I am woefully ignorant of our history, and that to my detriment. I realized had I have known growing up, what I learned in three hours, I would have made different choices. I would be a lot further along because from what little bit I know now, I am inspired to use what I’ve always taken for granted – my intelligence.

During the special, Mr. Gates made mention of the fact that whites promulgated the theory that blacks weren’t intelligent. One expert said they compared human heads to that of gorillas and came to the conclusion that we evolved from apes. Thus explaining why we are so robust and built for the hardness of slavery. That made me wonder if that is why the theory of evolution is so widely upheld.

But I walked away from that documentary determined to excel. Determined to do better. To live better and to help others do the same. But I always walked away wondering how the natives faired alongside Blacks during that period. But then God reminded me that I’m a product of their interaction. Though I don’t know my paternal ancestry, on my mother’s side, my ancestors were Choctaw. A Choctaw Indian married a young Black girl and from that union, I exist. Had I taken my heritage seriously, who knows where I’d be today.

Another thing I realized is that there were whites back then that helped. Back then. That says a lot. But to think, that even today, we have a President in office – today – that coddles those who desire to treat their Black brothers and sisters in Christ, as unequal. To know that the President of the United States of America desires that we go back to that type of treatment is disheartening.

The thing about it is that even if I wanted to be empathetic or try to understand why they still feel that way, I can’t. I mean I could understand if the pendulum of power swung our way more times than not, but that has never been the case. I could understand if they were tired of seeing Blacks populate 90% of the Senate, CEO positions, or hold the majority of the market share, that I could understand. I could understand if we were the overwhelmingly popular majority, categorically. I could even understand if every time they turned on their television, there we were - on every commercial, on every show, on every network. That I can understand. I could then see how they could feel some type of way. But that has never been the case.

So now it becomes a question of fear and a question of hate. Fear that you’ll lose the majority and fear that those once oppressed will be in power. But even if that happened, we’d only control a small percentage. So now it becomes a question of hate. You hate me that much that you don’t want me to have anything. No peace, power, rest, sleep, joy, freedom, love, God, or life. Nothing. For someone to think that we are not worthy of living is heartbreaking. Not only that, but to think that you can’t even find it in your heart to say that our lives matter has to be a spiritual issue because in my opinion, that’s more than hatred. It’s deep seeded. Deeply rooted in the fiber of who you are…in your spirit, and that has to bother God.

For His white babies to be so full of hate, that in certain areas, He can’t even reach them, has to hurt God. He loves them so much that He wants to do more in, for and through them, but He can’t. That means there are places – in God – they’ll never experience. How do I know? Because had I not let go of mine, I would have missed my day of salvation when Kristi Lamb, a white woman, extended an offer for me to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Without that white woman, I wouldn’t know God today. So the fact they many are missing Him, for that exact same reason, is sad – all the way around.

After watching, I had to thank God. I needed that and didn’t even know I needed it. Because I watched, I understand why one of my closest friends, Dante, is so successful. I was there when we took a field trip our senior year to the African Museum of Art. I watched as he stood before a statue of Ramses, and discovered he was a Black king. I see why he, and people like him, are so successful. It’s because they know. They know their history. While I was know hip hop history and the dope culture, they know African history and the dynamics of power in this country. I was paying attention to things that didn’t really matter while they paid attention to things that did.

And it is for all those reasons that I had to ask God to forgive my ignorance. To forgive me for ignoring my people. My heritage. What I’m really made of and from whence I come. I asked Him to forgive me for having not taken a real interest in my ancestors. I asked Him to forgive me for the time I wasted on frivolous interests. When I thought that it was cute that I didn’t know. I had to ask God to forgive me for not being all of who I could be simply because I don’t know where I came from. If you’re like me, then I encourage you to do the same because being ig’nant ain’t cute anymore.

Pray this with me: Heavenly Father, will You please forgive me for being ignorant of my heritage, where I come from, and who my ancestors are. Lord please forgive me for wasting time on frivolous interests and for allowing other people to tell me about their history without having known my own. Lord, lead me to resources and family members that can educate and fill in the blanks so that I can be all You created me to be. In Jesus’ name.

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