For 2016, I am urging my black family to take back our culture. We live in a time when our black men and women believe that they have to lower their standards to be successful. We exist in a virtual world where image comes with a cost that many are willing to pay, by any means necessary. We have lost ourselves trying to keep up with the rich and famous. Yes! There are many black people who are successful and celebrated, including U.S. President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey, but instead of striving to be positive role models like them, what we see on TV and on social media instead are men and women who are trampling on a culture that took years to build. Don't get caught up in 2016.
Take back our black skin. When I look at our young men and women, I don't even recognize many of you anymore. We have allowed our history of enslavement to consume us once again, making us believe that our black skin is ugly. This has led to the skin bleaching phenomenon. Why? This dark skin versus light skin nonsense has many of us taking our black skin for granted. Look in the mirror. Do you see that? This rich chocolate skin is something many others wish they had, so stop messing it up with all the crap.
Take back our black beauty. When I think of beauty, my mind often takes me back to the motherland -- Africa -- where we once embraced our black bodies to the point of worshiping it. How many people can truly say that their bodies are like art? Our natural curves, full lips and cuts are so envied that we have women from other races packing concrete into their butts and filling their faces with Botox, just to look like us. Now here we are jumping on the "build-a-body" train and wrecking our naturally beautiful temples. SMDH!
Take back our intelligence. We have some of the most intelligent geniuses in the world who would make great black leaders and inventors, yet we fail to recognize and celebrate our own. Instead, we fight each other, allowing the media to portray us as the most ignorant people, when there are so many black men and women making a mark in their schools, in their careers and in their countries. Let us return to our real goals, like getting an education and that job that will lead to a great life with our dignity still intact... which leads me to my next point.
Take back our dignity. Black men... we don't need to see your asses, the piles of money on your bed and you don't have to act like a thug or wear a million gold chains and a grill in your mouth to get respect or to be noticed. I know some of these rappers often times give you that impression. The media then uses this to stereotype our young black men in particular as murderers and thieves, leading to our sons becoming targets for the cops. Black men, we still admire and appreciate the pants on your waist with a tucked in shirt. Rappers, I love and appreciate your music (I love me some Jay Z, Diddy, Drake, Wale and even some trap music), but I also love music that comes with an inspiring message and I know many rappers do it. We appreciate that too and it will not make you a punk. I promise.
Now to my black women: I know many of you are now aiming to be the next cast member on Love and Hip, Basketball Wives or Real Housewives. As rewarding as it might seem, Reality TV has been using our black women and men to make this type of 'ratchet' lifestyle and behaviour the new normal. Well I refuse to accept that my 'sistas' are nothing more than "thots" who twerk in their thongs for a living or fight over men on television to stay on top and I sure as heck don't want a womanizer for a 'brotha' who has no respect for women or himself. We see on these shows women who settle into relationships with men who cheat for the heck of it and women who stick around abusive men just for the money and fame. Our people are so caught up with trying to fit into this image of success, that they will do anything possible to get the lavish life. My people, success is much more than riches and popularity. Finally...
Take back our black pride. There was a time when black people were known for their perseverance. We were the group of people that got respect because we overcame great odds. I know sometimes it feels like we have to work ten times harder to be successful, but we can do this without degrading ourselves, our families and our communities. Let the media speak positives instead of the negatives they continue to highlight. Find the successful and positive black men and women in your communities and share their stories to inspire others. We don't need to be competing with each other and pulling each other down. Before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and reality TV, all we had was each other and life was good.
We were also the people who were known for our natural beauty. So embrace what you have and know that it is special. Don't allow society to water down our blackness and paint our culture as bad. Our forefathers worked too hard for us to turn our backs on all that they have done for us. Preserve our black culture and take back our black pride. I am a proud black woman and I know we can do it!
If you still believe in our black culture, share this message with the hashtag: #takebackblackpridefor2016
Love you all and Happy New Year! xoxos
Follow Tasheka Lavann on Twitter: www.twitter.com/tashekalavann