We’re Black…But Do I Know You?

We are in the midst of Black History Month, which is acknowledged by people all across the United States every February. At the same time, there are countless U.S. citizens who could care less about hearing about the contributions that Black people have made in America.

If there is anyone who should care about the contributions, efforts and concerns of Black people, it should be…well…Black people! It saddens me just how disconnected we are as a collective group of people. Almost as if we are vagrants, with no true place to lay our collective heads.

I mean, it’s as if we don’t even know one another as a people. Think about it for a moment.

Have you ever been out to, say the mall or a restaurant, and you recognize someone and approach them to speak only to have them say those dreadful words, “I’m sorry, do I know you?”

You try your best to remember how you may know the person or where you know the person from, but somehow it just doesn’t register with you. You find yourself shaking your head and shrugging your shoulders trying to recall, but you are unable to put two and two together. Ever been there?

Or try this one. Maybe you were on the opposite end of the spectrum where you were the one who didn’t remember or recognize the other person who came up to you, and although they tried their best to get you to remember along with them, you just can’t recall how you may know one another. Been there?

Well…whatever the case may be, it is an uncomfortable feeling, isn’t it?

The foundational premise behind each scenario is this – you and that other individual clearly may have had some sort of connectable “history” with one another – whether it was a brief and/or limited – but you can’t remember.

The historical experiences and the relationships you may have forged with the person can never be ignored or denied, and it doesn’t change the fact it took place. You just can’t remember.

Many of us have been to, or still attend family reunions or high school class reunions.

Be honest! You may recognize and remember some of your family members, or some of your classmates at the reunion, but some of them you can’t remember at all; and you probably have never even met them before.

But listen…although you may not remember your family members or your classmates, and although you possibly never met any of your family members or classmates before, it doesn’t negate the fact that those people in attendance are still your family members or classmates.

There are many people who refuse to go to their family reunions or class reunions because they don’t feel connected to anyone, so they choose to have nothing to do with their family or with their high school classmates.

I continue to stand amazed at the many people who are all-of-a-sudden shell shocked after witnessing what is happening in this country after the election of Donald J. Trump as president, and the blatant display of racism that we are seeing.

While I am glad to see so many of us waking up to reality, I have to be honest about how overwhelmingly surprised, especially here of late, I have been with the number of Black people who still believe we are living in a post-racial society.

More alarming to me has been the response by many African Americans, who still believe that learning about their real African History, and that the contributions of our African American predecessors are not important or relevant in the times we are living. Black history is so important.

Although Black History in America consists of countless atrocities and negative circumstances, it also consists of so many great and outstanding things that have helped shape and transform America into the great nation it has become; before making it great again became a fad or catch phrase. Black History is a major part of American history, and represents some of the best parts of American history.

Recently, I had one of my Black peers tell me that they were cool with Black History Month, but didn’t believe teaching their child about slavery and the atrocities suffered by people of African descent in this country was important or necessary. Try telling a Jewish person to forget about the Holocaust and to get past it. Good luck with that!

Listen, I am all for being progressive in thought and action, but I also realize that if you don’t know your history, you are destined to repeat it. After hearing that, it brought me to the realization that Black people are collectively one of, if not the only, racial group in America who has completely been detached from its heritage and true history.

Honestly, many of my Black brothers and sisters don’t know me, or just don’t want to know me, because we have been conditioned that we are just “Americans” and that our heritage and foundational roots aren’t that important. That was stripped from us and we have yet to collectively recover from it to the point of understanding how damaging it has been to us as a people.

If you look at immigrants, who used to be able to travel to the U.S. with no problem before the Trump “travel ban”, or any other racial demographic in the U.S., you will find that they openly embrace their foundational culture, and they religiously teach their children to do the same.

Truth be told, Black people have been stripped of their true identity and for centuries been taught to adopt European culture as if it was our own. We have an origin. We have a birthright. We have a beginning. And it didn’t start here in the America we now live in. Do we even care to know who we are and where we come from in order to teach our children about themselves? Do you even care to know who I am, my Black brother and Black sister? I want to know you!

Black History is important, and if we don’t learn to embrace our Black History, we will be destined to repeat it. We had better start learning now, especially while this new administration under the leadership of President Trump is in the White House, and while the people President Trump selects to run this country are at the helm.

Listen Black people…we need to stop treating each other like strangers. Moving forward, I don’t want any of us to have to walk up to one another on the street in our respective communities and have to ask each other the proverbial question: “I’m sorry, do I know you?”

Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey has been a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and Primetime Justice with Ashleigh Banfield. Jeffrey has a national daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney, and is a dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at jboney1@forwardtimes.com