5 Ways To Celebrate Black History Month

5 Ways You Can Help Celebrate Black History Month

Happy Black History Month, y'all!

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As the month of February has blessed us with its presence, not only is it the month of love, it is also the month of blackness. Although Black History Month for 28 days is not enough to change the narrative of a White America, it launches us into a realm of awareness. There is no right way to celebrate Black History Month and there is no wrong way to celebrate Black History Month. However, in a time of so much division, this month and every month is important to acknowledge the strides of Black Americans that helped lay the foundation.

And Black History Month is not just for Black people, so here are five ways we can all celebrate this wonderful time of the year:

1. Go and attend Black History Month events

This is a perfect way to get yourself into spaces where learning can occur.

2. Read its history

Educate yourself. The only way to combat ignorance is through knowledge.

3. Watch movies or documentaries

"Black Panther" and "Get Out" are not the only movies you can watch to help celebrate. Try and find movies and or documentaries that support the Black experience. Venture out and find movies/documentaries that are overlooked.

4. Listen

Get in conversations. Listen to those who provide enriching experiences. You don't have to listen to respond, simply listen to understand.

5. MUSIC

Black people MADE music the way that is is now and it goes under appreciated. Listen to an album or a song by a black musician. Make an effort to read up on them and see how they have shaped our American genres such as jazz and blues.

As we go through this month let's keep in mind the strong, courageous, resilient, and empowering Black Kings and Queens that paved the way for us to fight for justice towards equity and love.

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The Ins And Outs Of Imposter Syndrome And How It Affects Women Of Color

We're taught by older generations that we always have to work twice as hard to get half as far as white peers.

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First things first I want to tell you what Imposter Syndrome is not. I know there are plenty of articles that discuss self-confidence through body image but I can guarantee you that's not what I'm talking about here. That could be another article for another day, perhaps. It's also not just a feeling of "oh, dang, I could've done that better" or "I wish I'd done that differently." It must also be noted that this is less of an actual disorder and more of a condition if you will.

What Imposter Syndrome actually is is feeling like nothing you accomplish is actually worth anything and that everything you've achieved is because of luck, not because of the work you put into it. It's always feeling like you're going to be exposed or found out for not actually being as intelligent or successful as you seem or as you say you are.

But how does this manifest in everyday life you ask? Well, of course, I am here to provide some examples.

Whenever I have a project due in one of my journalism classes, I make sure to listen to the instructions when it's being introduced. I always go back and read over the syllabus when completing my projects. I take the tips and tricks into account. I follow all of the guidelines I was given and I always try to put my best foot forward. Yet, I still always feel like I'm doing everything incorrectly or that I'm forgetting something. I feel like no matter what my professor is going to hate it and I'm going to get a bad grade.

Or it can manifest as whenever I try to apply for a job I have a hard time describing my skills or past work experience because I feel like I haven't really done anything relevant. I also don't really feel like I have many skills if any. I always remember that someone is going to have more experience or a better portfolio or a better resume. Whenever I remember that it can leave me feeling inadequate and like I don't belong. Like everyone else is a hireable employee and like I'm a poser.

I think this has a lot to do with the fact that, as a woman, you're socialized to put other people's needs and wants before your own whether that be celebrating other people's accomplishments or helping other people bounce back from failure. But you never really gain the skills to be that same support for yourself, at least not without years of work and undoing the internalized misogyny you've faced. Also because we've been socialized this way it can leave you feeling like you don't deserve anything good because the people around you haven't gotten there's yet. And that can be extremely difficult to break through.

As for people of color, because we're taught by older generations that we always have to work twice as hard to get half as far as white peers, we're always so used to exerting so much energy. But the moment you actually get recognized for your hard work can be jarring because you might feel like you weren't working as hard you could be and don't deserve it. Or that you got lucky this time but soon everyone is gonna find out the truth and you're gonna be exposed as a fraud or an underachiever.

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I Am 9,170 Miles Away But I Still Choose To Stand In Solidarity With The People Of Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has its own flaws and imperfections, but what I've learned is that even on our darkest days, no one can take away faith and solidarity.

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April 21, 2019. Easter Sunday.

I was devastated to wake up on Sunday morning to a series of missed calls and texts from friends asking whether my friends and family were affected by the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. I was shocked to read all of the news about the bombings in various churches and hotels that I'd visited on my trips to Sri Lanka. I remember wandering around the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in middle school hoping to get a glimpse of internationally famous cricket players like Lasith Malinga and Kumar Sangakkara.

Now, this hotel where I associated happy memories of staying up until 5 a.m. to watch the World Cup and running around with my brother is one of the 6 locations in Sri Lanka that was bombed on Easter.

Sri Lanka is a country that most of my peers have never heard of. It brings a smile to my face when I'm able to talk about the amazing experiences I've had on this island nation. I'm able to talk about how I almost got run over by an elephant during a safari in Yala National Park, how I took surfing lessons at Arugam Bay, and how I climbed all the way up Mount Sigiriya when I was 4 years old. All of these experiences have shown me the beauty of the people, the nature, the animals, and the culture of Sri Lanka. While there is so much to appreciate, there is also so much to acknowledge about its recent history.

In 2009, the 30-year civil war finally came to an end. I remember going to my parents' room when I was nine, and watching live streams of people in the streets celebrating that the war had finally ended. This was a war that caused the majority of my family to flee the country to avoid the violence and destruction. Now, almost ten years after the war ended, there was a coordinated attack on churches and hotels that led to the murder of over 300 innocent citizens and wounded around 500 people.

Sri Lanka isn't perfect, but it's roots and culture have made me who I am today. Even though I wasn't alive during the majority of the war, it has left a lasting impact on my family. My mom had to go by herself to Russia, without any prior Russian language experience, to avoid being in the middle of the war. She now speaks English, Russian, Tamil, and Sinhalese. I had other family members who fled to places like New Zealand, Nigeria, Canada, and Australia.

Because of the war, I have family all over the world who can speak Mandarin, Arabic, Dutch, Malay, French, Russian, and so many more languages. Being Sri Lankan has given me an international perspective on the world around me and has given me the insight to look past cultural differences. Instead of going to shopping malls with my cousins like my friends in the US do, I meander through bazaars in Singapore and Malaysia or go dune-bashing in the United Arab Emirates.

When people look at me, they never think that my last name could be Paul. Shouldn't it be something that is hard to pronounce or something much longer? My last name dates back to 1814 when missionaries from Williams College traveled all the way to villages in the Northern parts of Sri Lanka to share God's love. My great great great grandfather studied in one of the many Christian schools and his faith has been passed down from generation to generation. No matter how dark things got during the war, faith is what kept my family going.

Though Sri Lanka has faced adversity over the years, it continues to grow stronger. Through violence, hurricanes, government corruption, and internal conflicts, Sri Lanka continues to push through. Sri Lanka has its own flaws and imperfections, but what I've learned is that even on our darkest days, no one can take away faith and solidarity.

So today—9,170 miles away—I stand with the people of Sri Lanka.

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