Free-ish: It’s America’s Birthday

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It’s 2021 and we are still experiencing “the first Black” in way too many aspects of society from business to sports. It’s certainly not because Black people are an inferior race. (As a Sociology professor, let me remind you that this is not the time to tell me that race is a social construct.)

Today is another day to celebrate America’s Birthday since July 4th was on a Sunday.  Will I ruin the celebration by talking about race and racism? My folks have deemed today, Juneteenth Part II, National Cookout Day, 15 Days After Juneteenth, and probably a half dozen other brilliant names I have yet to hear, because we all know that my ancestors were not free on July 4, 1776.

Now, back to the question at hand. The real truth is that I don’t want to talk about race and racism…ever, but that’s not a luxury that I have. I am a Black woman in America and the world will always see me as such – whatever that means in their minds.

I don’t want to talk to those who have decided that racism is a falsehood made up by liberal media. I don’t want to talk to those who deny my lived experience and the lived experiences of millions of people of color in this country because it is not their experience. I don’t want to talk to those who are so colorblind that they erase part of my essence and being to paint me in a human light (note, I am Black and human). I don’t want to talk to those who are so closed-minded that they are unwilling to receive any new information or explore historical facts. I don’t want to talk to those who have decided that speaking of racism is victimhood because African Americans have made it to Congress and Harvard. We made it because we are a brilliant, resilient people who never give up and not because we don’t face structural barriers because of our race. Yes, we have progressed as a people but so many problems still remain that have historical and systemic context.

Entitled parents and politicians are crying about how Critical Race Theory will make White children feel bad or will make Black children hate White children while completely historical ignoring facts. They’re ignoring the current facts that schools are places filled with ostracism, punishment, and trauma for many Black children. We are no longer going to whitewash history. Blind patriotism and nationalism are ridiculous concepts. I have certain privileges as an American citizen – like posting this blog without fear of being arrested for treason – but as a Black woman, there are certain freedoms that aren’t available to me without a fight. In 2021 Black women are still being told that our natural hair that grows naturally from our heads in unprofessional, recruiters and headhunters are still excluding candidates with ethnic-sounding names, and Rachel Dolezal is considered transracial. Does that privilege work in reverse? Can a Black woman named Rachel bleach her skin, attend a PWI, major in American History, work in US politics and become a transracial White woman?  How many Black people are still serving years in jail for marijuana usage while cannabis has been legalized in numerous states and the lucrative industry shuts out minorities? Crack epidemic versus opioid crisis?

Racism can be subtle or overt. Microaggressions happen daily to many Black people. No one can tell us how to perceive what happens to us. Regardless of intent, it is the impact that matters most. By the way, we wouldn’t need allies if we weren’t in a constant war to exist as we are.

Accountability is a good thing. We can love or celebrate someone or something and still set clear rules of engagement and expectations while also correcting unacceptable behavior. It is ignorant to tell Black people to go back to Africa if they don’t like it here in America, because; (1) colonizers were not the original occupants or owners of this stolen land, (2) enslaved Africans did not ask to come here nor have their descendants born here, and (3) go back to Europe.

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Nicki Sanders, MSW, CEO, is a Career and Empowerment Strategist who helps high-performing women of color in management go from overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated to energized, well paid, and appreciated. Through Nicki Sanders Leadership Consulting, she also helps businesses recruit, hire, train, and retain great employees. Nicki has an extensive background in developing and managing successful programs and leading high-functioning multi-disciplinary teams. She is an accomplished professor, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has combined her gift for authentic relationships, Master of Social Work degree, and over 20 years of diverse work experience to create a life she loves. Nicki is a lover of cupcakes, travel, and 80’s hip hop and R&B music.
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