As a person of color I realize the impact of my actions and the opportunity that my contributions and potential contributions can have. Honoring the history that has afforded many of us the privilege to exist the way we do is immeasurable.
I grew up appreciating and loving Black History Month as a child. Despite the negative images of public schools in the south I had a tremendous experience. My peers and I would dive deep into the rich history of African American people. From attending Emerson Elementary to Paul Revere Middle School a 1-year stint at Lee High School to attending Westside High School, the schools I attended always participated in the celebration Black History Month. From the programs to the lessons we were taught I benefited from the knowledge imparted.
Those experiences were key to ensuring that I could contribute to society at large in some way. Many of us were taught about the great inventions of Lloyd P. Ray, inventor of the dustpan. We benefit from Thomas W. Stewart, inventor of the mop, and from John Standard, the inventor of the refrigerator. Who didn’t have a super soaker as kid? Who did not want one? It blew my mind to know Lonnie G. Johnson invented arguably one of the most popular toys of my child hood. For those of us who can’t drive a stick, we can thank Richard Spikes for solving that issue, he created the automatic gearshift.
You see the inventions above were just a few of the additions to the world that black people created. So the question that I ask to the black people who are reading this is, “What will you contribute?” An even better question is, “When will you contribute?” We have so many contributions to make to society. Though the media and movies won’t depict it. We can contribute outside of pop culture, sports and entertainment. There is nothing wrong with contributions in those areas, but know you can contribute more.
Maybe you will not invent anything, but rather inspire a generation of innovators. Could your insight and talents be used to be mentor or to teach? After all the inventors listed above had some sort of teaching or education. So I encourage every one of us to tap into our calling. We are more than stereotypes, entertainment and more than our skin color. So I encourage you to be better than you have been in the past. Walk into the greatness you are a part of.