I didn’t always celebrate Black History Month. In school celebrations and history lessons, I learned a lot about African American civil right activists and forms of celebration. But as someone whose family immigrated from South America and the Caribbean, I had a hard time identifying with African American traditions.
My blackness made me feel like I wasn’t fully Latina, while my upbringing made me feel like I wasn’t Black enough.
My parents — like me — were never really sure where we fit in. And we never really talked about celebrating Black History Month until I was well into my teenage years. But from that point on, I realized that regardless of my ethnicity, I am Black. I realized that Black History Month is about celebrating the power of Blackness throughout history, regardless of whether or not others share the same ethnicity or nationality as me.
The way I celebrate my Blackness is extremely personal to me. In recent years, I’ve taken it upon myself to celebrate Black History Month in my own way. I already engage with lots of Black media, but I feel a deeper sense of pride and community while I consume it in February. I intentionally practice more self-care than usual, and I refuse to tolerate any form of maltreatment. I remember to tell my Black friends and family how much I love them – how much I see them and the beauty they add to the world. And when I intentionally care for myself during this month, it gets easier to continue these habits once February ends.
Looking back, I wish I had started celebrating Black History Month sooner. Being Black is something I’ve grown to feel an endless pride in, and I now realize that I don’t have to neglect my other intersecting identities to celebrate.
This story was featured on NPR/WBUR’s Here and Now.