Black History Month Assembly

BY IMAN UMAIR-QAISER

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Throughout all of February, a dedicated team of students at MD raised awareness about Black History Month and its significance in many ways, including posters, facts of the day, and announcements about historically-significant members of the black community. The month kicked off with a presentation by guest speaker Marc Davis, and on February 28th, MD had our Black History Month assembly. The assembly shone light on the actions of influential black figures in history. It also provided insight into more recent socio-economic development and events in the black community as well, including the vastly successful release of the movie Black Panther. During the assembly and daily announcements for the month, music created exclusively by black artists streamed through the speaker, giving viewers a taste of contributions to the music industry made by black artists. Student speakers explained the importance of the role of black people in history, and Ms. Baksys gave reasons why the use of the n-word was unacceptable and derogatory in the school environment. The highlight of the assembly, however, was the spoken word poetry presented by a group of students who had some thoughts to share on racism, and how it affected them personally. Here is the poem below:

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GROUP SPOKEN WORD
By Sydney, Teha, Monique, and Simi

Teha:
As a child I was always embarrassed to bring my jerk chicken and rice and peas,
because everyone else would bring there wonder bread and plastic cheese,
everyone would pick on me saying that my food stinks, or that I eat trash.
It hurt me.
One day I told my mom to make me a white people lunch because I wanted to fit in. Being surrounded by white people I had to fit in.
I made my aunt perm my hair so it would be straight. I made my mom change the food that I ate. I wanted to be just like them because the way they made me feel and the way they made me think, it sounded like embracing my culture and being who I am is a bad thing.

(Breath)

I made my 8-year-old self believe that I was not beautiful.
When I was in the 6th grade I had a teacher tell me. “Teha, you are so pretty… for a black girl.”

I’m not looking for your sympathy, I’m showing you my reality.

Everybody wants to be black, but NObody wants to BE black.

Simi:
Media portrays black people as thugs and brown people as terrorists.
From a young age, it’s been repeatedly forced on us.

What is the standard?
The standard has always been white,
beauty standards,
education standards,
fashion standards
To the point people of colour have grown to hate their own kind.

Colourism.
When we value light-skinned people more than dark-skinned people of the same race.
White people have enslaved,
raped and
killed people of colour
to the point that we value the lives of lighter skinned people more.

Dark skin is dirty and uneducated.

So I should bleach my skin and use creams that will make me light.
When internal hatred spews into hating people of the same race
because we have been taught to value people who are white.
My skin was scrubbed to make me look lighter
because being light meant looking white and beautiful,
which meant I would have a better chance at life-
it makes me sick to think that my worth has always been based off the colour of my skin.

I was taught that white is right.

Everybody wants to be black but NObody wants to BE black

Momo:
I am tired
of spending hours trying to find the perfect shade yet there are 30 shades of beige, ivory and mayonnaise
I envy how you can just walk in and pick something up while makeup companies act unaware of how
for myself or any darker-skinned person,

Sephora is a whole day affair
I see a makeup ad with 3 white women and a lighter skinned black women with 3a hair because that’s the darkest shade these whitewashed brains can handle
Not every black person is the same shade of chocolate

When you wear cornrows it’s a trend but when I wear them I’m ghetto
I’m considered unprofessional but you’re told you’re a trendsetter
Those hoop earrings
And laid edges,
are my culture, vulture.
Those long accessorized acrylic nails, still mine as well
Why can’t you embrace your own culture? Why do you have to steal mine?
Do you even know the history of what you’re wearing,
the pain and suffering my ancestors were bearing
So that YOU (pause) could be ignorant
The music you listen to,
yes, black subculture created it
All that jazz,
Reggae,
rock and roll,
R&B, pop,
and rap,
we created that
Your beloved Elvis Presley stole his songs from many black artists and called it his own, introduced them to his white audience and was put on a throne.

Everybody wants to be black but NObody wants to BE black

Sydney:
Why am I
consistently on defensive mode all the time?
Why am I
scared when police come around if they are there to help?
You judge and associate stereotypes with me before you actually get to know me
Loud,
Ratchet,
Ghetto,
drug dealer, delinquent, uneducated, fake hair are probably some of the words that come to your mind when you see me
If I wear a black hood why am I automatically considered suspicious?
Are you so afraid of me that you’d rather kill me then get to know me?
Every other day we are being shot left and right and no one bats eye?- stat? 1/7 men being carded
Tamar, Philando, Eric, Trayvon, Sandra, Rodney
are just a few of the black people shot and killed by the hands of white police officers
For what?
The pigmentation of my skin.
The melanin in my skin.
The melanin that you all derive from.
Imagine being scared in a group full of white people.
Imagine having to be home before dark because your parents are scared you won’t see the say of light.
Imagine being scared of the people who are supposed to help you in an emergency.
I’m tired of consistently being on defensive mode,
Always ready to defend myself
when I shouldn’t have too.
I’m tired of crying while watching the videos of black men being shot in cold blood
police officers being acquitted each time when there is video proof.
All lives matter until black lives come into play,
then everyone is silent.
Black lives matter does not mean that your life doesn’t matter
It means our lives matter just as much as yours do. Our lives matter TOO.
It means that we are being killed so frequently that we have to question why our lives
don’t matter.

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