As challenging as this post was to write, so much healing and celebration came from it. I was asked to share “What does black history month mean to me”?
I thought I had something to say right away, but I couldn’t answer. I asked myself “why”? Truth is, up until this year, Black History Month was just another month. Yes, I learned about my history, but it always felt like the world and my community always went through the motions when it came to February. I personally never really felt proud of being “black”. I just existed as a black woman in America.
Yes, I saw myself as beautiful, but I personally never felt understood in my community enough for me to be proud of being a black woman in America. Which, in my early years, had me wishing I was another ethnicity.
Majority of my life I was often told by other black men and women that people that I “acted white”. Which meant, in the black community, that that individual’s vernacular and pronunciation of words was of the Caucasian race. That made me feel like an outsider with my race and I went where I was more accepted.
My mother and father raised my siblings and me to never mumble, enunciate my words, and learn new ones! We looked at it as a form of respect and means to make sure we communicated effectively, but hearing that I “acted white” still made me feel secluded. I just wanted to be accepted and just fit in.
Though I came from a multi-ethnic town, I was bullied by a few classmates. I was called names like “darkie,” “n-word,” and “ugly.” I didn’t understand why that group perceived me as unattractive, but their words unknowingly shaped the perception of my own beauty and increased my wish to fit in and be left alone.
In the year 2000, my family and I moved to Tulsa and since then up to 2020, I’ve learned so much about the black community. I’ve come into contact with incredible women and men, but in those same 20 years, I still only existed. I was still racially bullied, but this time it was indifferent. A guy breaking up with me because his parents gave him an ultimatum. Women saying I’d never have a boyfriend or be married because I’m black to guys rejecting me because their family wouldn’t approve. The only difference is I began my walk with God in 2011 and grew thick skin as I gained understanding in my identity through Christ.
In my walk with God, He has shown me that in my adolescence, I had trained myself to just fit in and go unnoticed. He instilled in me, that:
I am set apart. (Deut 14:2)
I was intentionally created with Love. (Jere 1:5)
I am beautiful and Resilient. ( Ps 139:14, 2 Cor 4:8-9)
I wasn’t alone because He’s been with me. (Heb 13:5)
He accepts me and in Him is my rest/peace. (Matt 11:28)
I am called to carry on the works of Jesus! (John 14:12)
July 2020, I saw a rise of the black community coming together and championing one another in leadership and life. Though summer was highly triggering, God saw an opportunity to heal the broken places, forgive those who hurt me, and rise.
December 2020 at the Live Original retreat, I arrived cautiously, but still eager to meet these other phenomenal women! And I’ve never felt so free to simply be Me. I’ll never forget how 2020 ended. I was fully respected, accepted, heard, loved, and valued…. as a Black Live Original Ambassador.
So, What does Black History Month mean to me? This month meant honoring those who paved the way with their very lives to fight for mental, political, social, and spiritual equality. Because of them, I get to stand on their shoulders and represent a new America…and I’m not alone. I have God backing me. Today and forever, I celebrate ALL of me and my ancestors!
Ryanne Gordon is an Oklahoman Native who currently resides in Tulsa. There she designs homes for a new home builder. She also owns her own jewelry line called “RYANNEMARIE”. You can find her enjoying time laughing with her family and friends. Though she’s passionate about a lot of things her goal is to help people know/discover their worth and ultimately point people to Christ in whatever God has her doing in that season.
Follow Ryanne on Instagram @iamryannemarie