“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)
At first glance, it is easy to see that I am a black woman. When I speak, it does not take long to assess that I am American (although I have been in the South so long that my Midwest “lack of an accent” is no longer as obvious). Upon further view of my life, through conversation, actions, purpose, and peace, it is quite clear that I am a follower of Jesus Christ.
Here at Southeastern, I stand out a little bit, and I’m learning to be okay with that reality. I am a single black woman who is almost forty on a campus where the majority of my classmates are married white males in their early to mid-twenties. This means that every day I get an opportunity to create black history and change other people’s conscious or subconscious perceptions.
I seek to celebrate my blackness, my culture, my history, and my heritage while embracing the good, learning from the struggle, challenging the ugly, and acknowledging the strides. I pray that celebration becomes a classroom for others.
In today’s post, I want to propose a challenge. This is the same challenge I presented to my predominately black students each of my fifteen years of teaching. It is a necessary challenge, especially for those who wonder why Carter G. Woodson chose to create Negro History Week in 1926, which later became Black History Month in 1976.
Each year when I issued this challenge as a teacher, the responses I read reminded me that there is a great need for recognizing the accomplishments of blacks and of other people of color.
I understand why many state that it is unfair not to also have a White History Month. I agree. In an equal and colorblind world, that would be perfect. But my current response is that most public school curriculums do not teach the important contributions of people of color.
Therefore, it is essential to accent the positives (and there are thousands of them), especially when the behavior of a reckless few have so dramatically influenced our perception about the majority.
You’re probably wondering, “What is this challenge?” It’s simple:
List as many famous African Americans/ Black Americans as you can who have made noteworthy contributions to the world.
But there’s a catch . . . You cannot name musicians or athletes, unless you can specifically name how they have positively impacted the lives of others. Once you get past Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks, the difficulty begins. Oh, I forgot to mention that there is a 5 minute time limit and no resources may be used.
Are you ready? Set a timer and see how you do. I’ll wait.
When you have finished, please keep in mind that intentional evangelism includes crossing all barriers, even cultural ones. How did you do?
We are ultimately all part of the human race, but just like when we go on an overseas mission trip, we must learn to interact with the culture of those around us to relate, converse, and at least cross the boundaries.