“In 1969, we were fighting to get in, now we’re fighting to be included.” We resonated strongly with these words spoken by Collette Philips, the keynote speaker for the National Association of Black Accountants event, “Breaking Down Barriers on the Road to Success.”

The unspoken question hung in the air and in our hearts: in a country where so much is being done to portray diversity and acceptance, why is there still a fight for us to be included?  Could it be that inclusion is now the mantle our society has no choice but to take up, because black history has merely been acknowledged, nodded towards, outwardly celebrated? To celebrate is to admire from afar, to respect what’s different. Yet celebrating also allows one to stand far enough away to remain unchanged.

 

To celebrate is to admire from afar, to respect what’s different. Yet celebrating also allows one to stand far enough away to remain unchanged.

 

During the month of February, the events I attended left me even more in awe of the beauty of the threading African-Americans bring to our nation. This isn’t favoritism but my bias is due to what I experienced at HubSpot’s event titled “Women Who Lead: On Resilience, Self-Care, and Finding Joy.” The guest panelists were African-American women who were making their mark as corporate leaders or entrepreneurs.  However, the gem wasn’t the color of their skin but that I was listening to humans, to Americans, to women who were sharing experiences, challenges and victories to which everyone can relate. The room was bursting with women and men of all backgrounds and the connectivity before, during and after the event was electric. We chose to connect. We chose to go beyond curiosity, beyond what felt familiar and cross the aisle to sit, commune and exist with others who may think and live differently than ourselves.

Black History is the very life of our nation. It is in every brick laid, every paved stone, every idea imagined, every principle fought for, everything that matters in America lives in Black History as it lives in the histories of every other culture here in our nation.

That night, everyone chose to be a thread of the relationship tapestry being woven. That night humans were authentically connecting, diversity and inclusion a given. The month we celebrate Black History is behind us, but the spirit of that celebration will always endure, threading itself day after day through each and every one of us into a rich tapestry of lived experiences, growth and understanding of self and others. However, Black History is more than an acknowledgment of diversity or an acceptance of inclusion. Black History is the very life of our nation. It is in every brick laid, every paved stone, every idea imagined, every principle fought for, everything that matters in America lives in Black History as it lives in the histories of every other culture here in our nation.

I encourage us to do more than just celebrate Black History but start connecting to it.

Demetria Bridges