Black History Month 2018 is here. It's arguably one of the most lit months of the year, do you agree?
This is the month where little boys and girls who look like me can learn about people their history books don't highlight. When the people in their lives make a conscious effort to teach them about how magical people who look like them have been, can be, are.
This learning is important because every day we get fed negative messages about ourselves. We get treated differently and held to a different standard because of our melanin and the stereotypes, the hard history that comes with it.
"You're too aggressive..."
"You're loud...""Why do you talk like that?"
So yes, Black History Month may be a melanin love fest. But I need that love fest. My 8-year-old son needs that love fest. Everyone needs to be able to see themselves in places of success, triumph, power, vulnerability, heroism.
Being able to see successful, happy, thriving people and then visualizing yourself in that place is crucial. I can speak to that first hand.
The connections I've made through networks of brilliant, kind black women are a huge reason why I'm in the career I've chosen. I didn't have a vision for my career until I was introduced to an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sister, a soror who was a successful national news producer. She sat down with me, took me on a tour of 30 Rock in New York and gave me step by step instructions for my next move. She's the reason I applied to Columbia because I could see myself in her success and she could, too.
This Black History Month, as it has been since the first Black History Month, there will be people questioning the need for the celebrations. They'll say, 'Why isn't there a White History Month?' or 'Black History Month is unnecessary...'
My advice to you, ignore it.
Don't spend Black History Month defending its purpose. Spend it learning about and celebrating magical black guys and gals everywhere. Spend it making contributions to your community. Contributions that will one day give you a spot in the history books.
Kristen Reed is a Senior Digital Producer at 11Alive News, the NBC affiliate in Atlanta. When not at work, she enjoys renovating her South Atlanta bungalow with her husband and 8-year-old son. You can connect with her on Twitter at @KristenBReed.