Each night before I go to bed, I hear the sound of my mother’s voice in my head: “Child, do not go to sleep and leave dirty dishes piled up in the sink. It encourages rodents and roaches.” This simple tradition of making sure the kitchen is clean before going to bed has been passed down in my West Indian family for generations. So, I felt it was very important to pass it on to my American child. Imagine my surprise when it met strong resistance! My son, having never seen a roach in our house, has dismissed the tradition as irrelevant and declared that my reasoning is not sound. He believes that it is quite acceptable to fill the sink with dishes until there are enough dirty utensils accumulated to load the dish washer. Hand washing of dishes in this country is null and void in his mind.
A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots. (Marcus Garvey)
Every once in a while, an event, day of commemoration, or something as simple as a documentary causes me to reflect on my life, specifically my diverse upbringing and how far I’ve come.
I was born in London, England to a Kenyan father and Trinidadian mother. My first seventeen years of life were spent growing up in Nairobi, Kenya: enjoying running around with my two younger sisters and numerous cousins. The next stage in my life was spent in England, where I spent almost thirteen years in further education and living life as a young adult. The last seven years have seen me move my life to the United States, where I have since married the love of my life and welcomed our first child and greatest gift from God.
Black History Month is a fairly recent observance for me, but one of immense importance. Its importance is not merely because I am black and want to acknowledge the struggle and sacrifice that others have endured before me, but also because I consider myself, first and foremost, an African. For me, Black History goes far beyond the shores of this country.
So what does it mean to grow up African?
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
I want to extend a warm invitation to you, your family, your friends, neighbors and co-workers to join us during the month of February as we celebrate Black History Month.
Each weekend, we will take some time to reflect upon the history of African people in the diaspora. We will start in Africa, move through the West Indies and finally land in America, as we celebrate the rich history, culture and legacy of each geographic area. While there is still a long way to go to realize Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream, we continue to make progress with each passing year.