Honoring common diversity

The Stress Free Tips: For mental hygiene and wellness

Daulton James Jones

Daulton James Jones

Daulton James Jones, Reporter

Black History Month just ended, and I wanted to dedicate this column to embrace your blackness, and mine. For the past five years or so it feels like there’s a kind of a black renaissance going on, but especially right now.

The advancements that we’ve been making as a species have been great, from Barack Obama becoming the first African American president to Imelme Umana becoming the first African American woman to become president of the Harvard Law Review. In the media, we usually see ourselves being depicted in a negative light.

Personally, embracing my own blackness (which kind of makes it sound like a syndrome or disease) has been a long road. Growing up around predominantly white people, I was usually, if not always, the only black person in many of spaces I was in, and it was hard because being black wasn’t something to be highlighted or embraced.

Growing up, I was always the reference point when it came to skin color. People would always say, “Oh yeah, I have a friend that’s black, but they’re not like your black.” The one that really ground my gears was when people compared me to someone else who they perceived as dark. Why does it matter how dark we are! We’re both black. People would tell me, “You don’t act black” or, “You’re the whitest black person I know.” I used to let things like that slide, but now I use them as education tools to teach people how that’s so not appropriate.

When I got to about senior year, I began to become more comfortable with myself, and that’s when I started to embrace the beauty of simply being Black and African American, which was once something I looked at as a negative. I found beauty in my own heritage.

My mother’s side of the family are Creole from Louisiana, and by spending time with my grandfather and his father I was exposed to generations of stories passed down. My father’s family is from Texas and Oklahoma, with rumored Caribbean origins. I grew up hearing stories of growing up back there, and I just wrote them off as boring, but I now see them totally different.

By learning the history of my family I was able to form a sense of pride in my identity. I walked around viewing the world through a different lens.

We are sprawled across the globe from the “Motherland” to towns and cities all across North and South America to the Caribbean. It’s crazy to think about how many people of African descent there are, but, we all have this one thing in common. One of my best friends is a first-generation whose parents are Jamaican immigrants, and even though our parents are from completely different places, we have many similarities.

I see this with my friends who are Afro-Latino, and friends whose families are from places like Nigeria and Ghana.

We all share this kind of kinship  where it’s like “All for one, one for all” mentality. It’s amazing. It’s like everywhere I go I’m seeing someone of my shared ancestry winning.