By Leah Smiley
My 15-year old daughter was perturbed that one of her classmates protested against “celebrating black history month”. The female classmate insisted that there were Caucasian slaves too, and therefore, no need to celebrate freedom for any special groups.
This debate actually occurs on college campuses and in the workplace too: “Why Should We Celebrate Black History Month?”
A good way to approach this topic is through research, such as one’s own genealogical history. Guess what? There is bound to be diversity somewhere in everyone’s lineage.
In my family, my maternal grandfather was a Veteran and his father was also a disabled War Veteran. My maternal grandmother’s great grandfather was a full-blood Cherokee Indian.
My father’s family originated from Georgia. I don’t know much about my grandfather, except that he had a big family– 10 siblings. My grandmother’s maiden name was “Mingledoff”, and her father was what they used to call a “mulatto”. His father was a German slave owner. Honestly, it was so interesting to learn all of these facts and to find out about the common threads that we all share.
You may be wondering, Leah, what does this mean? In short– I’ve got some American Indian and Caucasian relatives– hello family, guess who’s coming to dinner!
In all seriousness, it also means that the uniqueness and richness of African American history contributes something to us all. There are plenty of great black men and women, besides Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. There are some individuals, that we don’t hear about that often, who have been the first to accomplish something, or who contributed something meaningful to your field. We all could learn about these individuals, and many more, during the designated cultural months throughout the year.
Leah Smiley is the President of the Society for Diversity, the #1 professional association for Diversity and Inclusion. For more information about the Society for Diversity, log onto www.societyfordiversity.org.