Have you been to the underground?

Knowing your history is important.  Whether it’s your families medical history, your credit history, or the history of your ancestors–when you are in the “know” you’re allowing yourself the opportunity for growth.  In addition to growth, you’re preparing yourself for any obstacles that may come your way in advance.

This is why I’m not quite sure why it is being asked that the black culture should forget about slavery and forget about the many roadblocks that black people have had to endure over time.  I ranted about this a little on Facebook but figured this was the better platform to vocalize my opinion.

Let’s face it, we are ONLY 54 years out of segregation.  Meaning, my living parents and grandparents have all lived through a divided world and are all here to share their stories and experiences whenever they feel the need to.  The life of a black person isn’t a made up thriller story that people are fabricating just for the heck of it.  It’s easy for people to say that we (black people) should forget about “color” whenever black people decide to talk about slavery, the past, or racial issues but do you see white people forgetting “color” when blacks are harassed for being in a store for too long?  Or for being killed for having a toy gun?  This all boils down to fairness.  Equality.  Checks and balances.

Just because a person may not experience racism/oppression/bondage (or whatever it is that you have endured) doesn’t mean it is not true.  The fact that people are trying to say that slavery didn’t exist, that it was choice, and that we should forget about it, truly baffles me.

This brings me to the gist of this blog.  While hanging out in Northern Virginia for a quick weekend trip my family and I made our way to the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), located in Washington, DC on the National Mall.

img_3976I’ve been itching to make it to this museum since it opened in September of 2016.  I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve tried to get tickets online to no avail.  One year and 7 months later this museum is still one of the hardest museums to get into due to its popularity and the length of time attendees are spending inside.

Instead of attempting to get tickets online, we thought we would just try on a random Saturday since we were already in town.  We arrived at the museum midday with no tickets.  While the men searched for a place to park, the ladies approached the gentleman working and asked if there were any day passes left.  He gave us what he had, which were only three passes but we needed seven!  He advised us to try back in a few hours.  Taking his advice, we took the three tickets that were available and decided to venture around to other museums.  Before heading back to NMAAHC we enjoyed lunch at Ben’s Chili Bowl and enjoyed the beautiful Spring day in the States Capital.

Once we returned, they had exactly four passes available.  With those four passes plus the three we had from earlier, we were now ready to go inside!  We took a chance and luckily, it worked in our favor.

So here I was.

Ready and anxious to explore.  I had an idea of what to expect but at the same time I really wasn’t sure.  The museum was ten years in the making.  Not ten years to build but ten years to go from a thought, federal laws, funding, and to finally being able to build.  Another few years would pass as they began construction and collecting over 35,000 artifacts.

We were advised to start from the bottom floor and to work our way up to the higher levels.  I would also advise others to do the same if they are ever visiting the museum; I think that was a great idea looking back.  We all (my family plus other attendees) gathered on a huge elevator and traveled downed to the bottom floor, which is actually underground.  The elevator was glass with a black wall behind it.  As we traveled down to the underground floor we began seeing the years printed on the walls.  The years would scroll down in descending order as if we were going back into time. 1900s, 1800s, 1700s, 1600s, 1500s, 1400s!  Then the elevator stopped.

img_3950.jpgWe were dropped off in slavery.  It was dark and gloomy.  Dark in spirit and dark in light.  The area was tight, which I believe was done on purpose.  As you walked around you felt a sadness all around you.  So many words to read, so many things to see, with a double dose of heartache.  I’d stand there stunned trying to comprehend but really I couldn’t.  I could barely fathom the pain and to think that for hundreds of years MY ancestors had to live through this.

img_3949Slaves were traded for goods. They were beaten and abused and owned by slave masters.  Auctioned off like old cars.  Slaves were not given the privilege to learn how to read or write because slave masters were afraid the slaves would figure out how to escape.  Viewing the shackles and the mistreat that was bestowed upon our ancestors made me feel like I was living in that moment for just a second.  Everything felt ten times more real just by walking through exhibits in a museum.

img_3951Imagine actually living during those times.  Nothing about being a slave was a choice.  When they came over on ships, tied together and malnourished, many didn’t even make it over.  Some jumped off ships as dying was better than having to suffer.  They didn’t know the language and had nothing.  Slave masters left slaves in their wills as if they were pieces of property passed down through the family.

img_3956It was a lot to take in.  So much so, that we chose not see the entire slavery portion of the museum.  We wanted to have the chance to see the other floors within the museum and decided to move out of that era.  We also decided to skip the next floor which was the Jim Crow segregation floor and the Civil Rights era.

We headed our way up to the 70s and 80s.  The era of “I’m Black and I’m Proud.”   We strolled as we “ahhed” in amazement.  The progression that black people had made over the years was substantial.  For once, it felt good to see positive images of the black culture.

img_3970We kept moving up into the 90s and the 2000s steadily progressing but at times feeling like our black culture had become stagnant, again.

We strolled around the sports section…..

Film…..

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Music…..

and just black people at its greatness, in every genre and facet imaginable.

Indeed, the culture has come far.  The museum also highlights President Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States.

img_3964There wasn’t enough time to really take in every aspect of the museum.  We needed more than the 2.5 hours we allotted ourselves.  I’ve read that many people have spent around 8 hours in the museum.  With its own Café, plus a theater, I can see how easily this could happen.

I would advise anyone to visit this museum.  I guarantee you will leave with a different perspective on things.  I remember seeing some white people browsing the museum as I was.  I thought to myself, “maybe they get it.” Maybe they understand the importance of knowing the real story.  No matter your color you should visit this museum and allow it to be educational for you.

img_3962As a proud black woman I realize how far we have come but at the same time I realize the additional steps we must take in order to continue to move forward.  The NMAAHC does a great job of chronologicalling the Aftrican American history.  It is up to all of us to continue to strive for complete freedom.

My heart has been heavy since our museum visit because I just don’t understand why or how individuals could be so ignorant of the black struggle.

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The term, “started from the bottom; now we’re here” fits the mold of most black people’s life as well as this museum.  Which is why starting from the bottom underground floor and working your way up is key.  And yes, there is a lot of pain associated with those dark days of slavery.  Century after century we’ve taken two steps forward and then are somehow knocked back one.  But one of the greatest assets of black people is that we never give up.  Even when we have to start from the bottom, we make a way out of no way and we rise up!!

 

 All opinions in this post are of my own!

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My PSA to African Americans

My people, my people!!  I’m tired of shaking my head at you!!!

In the year of 2018, there is no need to have to solicit money via GoFundMe® accounts to fund relatives funerals. I am aware of the price tag that comes with a death of a family member but just in case you were not aware there’s this thing called LIFE INSURANCE. This is an essential for every person in your family. Not only is it an essential it is a necessity.

No person or family deserves the added stress of not being able to afford to bury a family member because a life insurance policy wasn’t in effect. And if a policy doesn’t exist collaborating amongst your family to get the money is better than begging for it through a third-party app or account.

Oh, another thing. Most jobs offer life insurance polices during your duration there. This really is the least that one could do.  Jobs with benefits are important.  I’m just saying.  It’s 2018.  It’s time for us to do better, collectively.

Don’t hate the messenger.  Hate the message and accept that the truth hurts sometimes. Besides a great person leaves an inheritance to his/her children’s children.

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From the Southside of Chicago to the White House: OBAMA

Hello World.

Today in Black History, lets talk about the 44th President of the United States of America.  Excuse me, the FIRST BLACK President of the United States of America.

Barack Obama

I remember like it was yesterday, the night he won the election and the day of the inauguration back in 2008.  African-Americans really thought that we had overcome.  I can remember my grandmother telling me that she never thought she would live to see the day a black man would become President.  The moment was surreal.  I watched as Mrs. Obama gracefully walked those cold Washington D.C. streets in that lemon/lime green suit.  Mr. Obama strolled with grace and dignity.  For once, we felt powerful and in control.  But how did Obama get to this place?  How did he manage to get into the White House?

Join me each week in a 6 part series listening to the podcast of, Making Obama by WBEZ Chicago public radio.  Here in the podcast they not only detail Obama’s journey but they do a really good job of laying out all the information for us which allows us to connect the dots.  You’re bound to learn something you didn’t already know.  I’m enjoying this podcast because of its focus on Obama’s path from being a community organizer to becoming the President opposed to his life as President.  Which I think we are all somewhat familiar with.

In the first episode alone, we learn about Barack Obama’s confidence, his perseverance, and his desire to help others.  He comes from a Kenyan father and a white mother.  He’s different and he’s a servant.  He truly believes the saying, “You can be anything you want to be.”  The Making Obama podcast is already 2 weeks in; be sure to go and catch up!

President Obama will forever be a part of Black History and an inspiration for all little black boys and girls, now and in the future.

If you’re listening to the podcast I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. 

This post features affiliated links but all opinions in this post are all my own

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Black Card Revoked!

It’s officially Black History Month, and I want to change things up, so I feel its only right to begin with a new card gamed titled “Black Card Revoked!”  Find it HERE.  So in this game, you can pretty much play however you feel fit.  Because the instructions are clearly typed saying, I know you will make up your own rules anyway, so play however you want!  But then they give some general guidelines; like, you can play the religious version and every time you miss an answer read a scripture from the bible.  Or, play the gambling version and when you get an answer right, you get a point.  The goal of the game is to try to answer your question correctly so that your black card, or all the things that make you black (besides your skin color) will not be revoked. Continue reading