In case you’re wondering, yes, I do feel absolutely blessed to be an American. At the same time, I am in complete agreement with Harry Smith’s observations that “Our history is both woeful and wonderful. Our story should be shared… owned. It endangers no one to understand the sins of our past.” And here is why his thoughts resonate so deeply with me.
There is a history behind my maiden name that I treasure. My great, great, grandfather was a former slave, and the tradition was that freed slaves took the last name of their former slave owner. Even as an enslaved man, my great, great grandfather carried himself in such a manner that people simply called him Polite. So, instead of assuming his former slave owner’s last name, he took the name Polite for himself. My maiden name reminds me that I do not have to let the assumptions, interpretations, and limiting beliefs of what others may believe apply to me as a Black woman, determine how I will show up in this world. That in itself is a reason to feel blessed.
The conversations that need to be had around liberty and the pursuit of happiness may be a little uncomfortable and I encourage you to stay with them and challenge yourself to see just how much you can grow through the discomfort to raise your awareness on the other side.