Since it is the month of November, and the season of being thankful, I want to thank all of the black role models. I say black role models because I think that it is important for young black children to see people who look like them succeeding and leading inspiring lives.
Black role models in several areas besides sports
Growing up we had amazing role models but most were from the past like Martin Luther King Jr. or Rosa Parks. We even had rappers, singers, and athletes but now this generation can look up to our first black and forever President Barack Obama, Jordan Peele actor, comedian, and filmmaker who has made moves to change movies as we know it. Let’s not forget the black girl magic that is Shequeena McKenzie that at 28 years old is the first black judge in McComb, Mississippi, or Dr. Kizzmekia S. Corbett who is the lead scientist on the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine team.
If we talk about Black Boy joy we have to talk about Nicholas Johnson the first black valedictorian at Princeton and Noah Harris the first black man to be student body president at Harvard. I selected these men and women to show that you do not have to be famous, or a certain age to be successful or a role model. Instead of looking up to the rappers and actors of this world let’s take a step back and look at the people that are making history as being the first in their fields.
In the words of Issa Rae “ I’m rooting for everyone black”, I want to see our black children succeed despite all that’s stacked against them. We need more black doctors to assure that our people are being heard when they say they need help. I can’t tell you how many stories I have heard where people have to request that something is written in their chart for them to get the proper care.
Let’s not forget the people that still believe that black people don’t feel pain the way white people do, saying that black people have thicker skin and less sensitive nerve endings. It’s this thinking that leads to the black mortality rate increase. Doctors don’t take their pain seriously so they don’t act appropriately. We need the lawyers, and judges to give these black men and women a fair trial instead of sentencing them to a lifetime in jail for petty theft while their white counterparts get 3 months for raping someone.
Representation matters, having someone that looks like you doing bigger, better things and most importantly not letting obstacles like their race stop them from being on top. We as black people should aspire to be more than rappers and athletes because that is not all that we are capable of.
Black role models in the movies
The movie Black Panther is the perfect example, the cast was predominantly black and showcased heroes rather than slaves. The movie itself was beautiful, presenting a new country with all types of African culture mixed in. From the language to the garments, Ryan Coogler did an amazing job showing how beautiful being black is. The story also brought out icons that children still admire, T’Challa (the Black Panther) stood up and did the right thing despite what was done before him.
Shuri was a teenager and arguably the smartest within the Marvel universe, she achieved far more than Tony Stark and Bruce Banner with her inventions. She is the engineer, computer technician, and inventor that we want our children to aspire to be. Another movie that changed the lives of black children, specifically young black girls was Hidden Figures. To learn that it was three black women that were behind the space launch in 1961. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Gobels were known as the human computers, their ability to figure out difficult calculations and how complicated machinery worked helped NASA beat Russia to space. Young girls saw this movie and that Halloween they were dressed up as these women.
I give thanks to these role models that show that black kids have a lot more to give to this world other than athletic skills and being a source of entertainment.
It is important that even in a fictional world, we are not portrayed as thugs or slaves but people with power with the will to succeed. I praise the individuals that step out of their comfort zone to do something different. I praise them because instead of falling in line they stand out and push past every obstacle that was set to keep them in a box.
I thank them because without them we wouldn’t know what we are capable of.
Expect Kiss & Tell Magazine to discuss many topics that must be constantly talked about in order for change to happen.
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