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On celebrating Black history month and beyond

What I am wearing is perhaps my all-time favorite black turtleneck.

I bought this sweater almost a year ago from Cushnie, one of the most prominent Black labels that broke barriers in the American fashion industry, worn by the most influential women in the world including Michelle Obama, Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez, Gal Gadot, Ava DuVernay, Blake Lively, among many others, and founded by the admirable woman Carly Cushnie. I love the unexpected see-through deep V cut on a classic structure that can simply be worn alone or styled with a slip underneath for a more sophisticated look. Little did I know Cushnie would have to close its stores by the end of October because it couldn't survive the pandemic... I was glad to participate in two book club events at work this month, one reading was 'Between the World and Me' by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and the other one was a movie discussion of 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' on Netflix. To read Coates’ words is to imagine what it’s like being in a Black man’s body, to feel as if there was no way out when being Black was inherently deemed inferior by white supremacists, and to understand how hard and painful it must be trying to explain to his fifteen-year-old-son “the price of error is higher for you than it is for your countrymen, and so that America might justify itself, the story of a black body’s destruction must always begin with his or her error, real or imagined.” These themes are yet again seen in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, especially in the last scene where Leeve breaks through the mysterious door only to realize that it leads to nowhere as a metaphor for the pervasive and systemic racism in America in the 1920s. Nonetheless, the scene where Leeve kills Toledo after Toledo accidentally steps on his new yellow shoes was what strikes me the most — it begs the question of what constitutes justice for marginalized and PTSD-suffering people while urging a more merciful, more just, and more open society in which emotional support and mental health care are no longer signs of weakness but necessities. If I look to Ma for empowerment as she knows her rights, her worth, and takes no bullshit, I look to former President Barack Obama for motivation as he represents the epitome of hope. My personal choice of reading for this month is his most recently released book, 'A Promised Land,' which is a big one and I still have pages yet to finish. However, I’ve found it definitely worth reading (and comprehending), especially during this time when we seek to heal, unite, and move forward to a brighter future for all. Even though today is the last day of Black History Month in America, we must continue advocating for humanity, supporting Black-owned businesses, educating ourselves on Black history, and celebrating Black excellence beyond these 28 days or a little black square with hashtags. Being anti-racist requires real actions to bring change. We can't be anti-racist without including all marginalized communities, just like we can’t fight racism with racism. We will always be stronger together, and only by uniting as one human race will we defeat racism, for the enemy is not the other races but racism itself.


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