Written and Compiled by Joshua Soucie | Edited by Mugoli Samba
Though Black History Month has come to an end, the conversation is just getting started.
I reached out to several Black public figures to ask them to contribute “reminders” concerning issues that mattered to them, which I have compiled into a list. If you’re white, much like me, all I ask of you is to listen and perhaps learn from the advice, experiences and perspectives of these influential figures.
Our bodies have stories wrapped around them. Stories we ourselves did not create, but are born into. Narratives of race, gender, ability, sexuality and it goes on and on. Stories that dictated power dynamics and domination. Here you are, born into a body that tells a story before you even learn how to speak. We learn to love our bodies because of or in spite of the history attached to them. In all the narratives that we become a part of, we have something we learn is unique yet powerful, something that belongs to us and only us – our voices.
– Thando Hopa, South African Model, Lawyer and Activist
As America takes on regressive ways of thinking, a few public figures contributed calls to action.
The best work comes out of rebellion. Specifically for black culture, this is the right time to be creative out of resistance and stand up for what you believe in.
– LaQuan Smith, Fashion Designer and CEO
Continuing the dialogue of race relations in America after Black History Month is an imperative step to the growth of our society. We celebrate the accomplishments and milestones of iconic leaders or pillars in the Black community however Black History month is also about acknowledging how long America was on the wrong side of history and how we still continue to right those wrongs. […] Ignoring a problem in most cases doesn’t solve it in a way that is healthy and enduring. These conversations extend well beyond a month out of the year and are a necessity in moving forward especially […] when the country is moving backwards.
– Tk Wonder, Rapper, TED Talks X Speaker and Vogue Best Dressed
Others urged people to recognize the differing experiences of those within the Black community.
A message I would like to leave for everyone, as we move into a new year and a new month, is to stay together. We often push each other away, as black people, by only associating with either light skin or dark skin. But we forget that we are ALL black people at the end of the day. […] I hope as the year proceeds, we can learn to associate as one, be strong as a race and respect each other. […] Support and encourage [one another], because if we don’t, who else will?
Peace and love to all my fellow Kings and Queens!
– Giannina Oteto, Model and Kenyan Refugee
Transphobia is, and has always been, a tool of colonization and white supremacy. Anything that divorces you from recognizing the fullness of Black people is anti-Black. Recognizing Black people as a whole includes Black trans & gender non-conforming people.
– J Mase III, Poet, Educator and Founder of awQward
Many shared inspirational affirmations meant to empower the younger generation.
I am very passionate about empowering women and [seeing] women building each other up. This was recently shown in the new film Black Panther. Where we had strong powerful black women like Shuri ( played by Letitia Wright), Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Okoye (played by Danai Gurira) and Nakia (played by Lupita Nyong’o). I love how children of this generation , especially girls, will have more powerful black females to look up to.
– Shelby Lynch, Fashion, Beauty and Lifestyle Vlogger
Others may place limitations upon you based off of your gender, race or ethnicity, stemming from a limited perception rooted in ignorance, but this does not define who you are. Always remember limitations only hold validity if we breath existence into them. We are all worth much more than the confining restraints, from those who are blinded by their close-minded ideologies.
– Cipriana Quann, Model, Writer and TED Talks X Speaker
– Chief Ugo Mozie, Creative Manager and Designer
– Tiff Hasbourne, Costume Designer, Stylist and Creative Curator.
A belief is only a thought you keep thinking. Be grateful and chase your dreams. You are in control of your destiny. You simply need to believe. After all, a belief is only a thought you keep thinking. If you believe anything long enough, it will be true!
– Dio Kurazawa, Denim Director at WGSN
Greatness is a result of dreaming big and then relentlessly chasing those dreams. And you were meant to be great!
– Rohan Gilkes, CEO and Co-Founder at Innclusive
Rules are meant to be broken, but you need to learn these rules in order to break them.
– Sam Lambert, Half of Art Comes First
– Shaka Maidoh, Half of Art Comes First
Everyone [goes] through difficult times. The way [you] overcome those times will determine your path either to success or failure. Your life is in your hands, so handle it with care. Each decision you make will open a new path.
– Weah Bangura, Model, Actor and Influencer
Know your worth; your self-worth and your monetary worth, and be unapologetic about it. […] Remember that you’re not society’s teacher, so protect your energy before giving it to others.
– Erin Ashley, Hip Hop Editor at Exclaim! and Manager at Boi-1da.com
Each contribution was meant to inspire, empower and enlighten readers. You can help keep the conversation going by sharing this post!
Being black and happy is radical within itself. Being black and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a power. Never let anyone take it away from you.
– Gabrielle Richardson, Model, Artist and Curator at Art Hoe Collective