*A short article I wrote for our school newspaper*
As I reflect on Black History Month, a myriad of thoughts and emotions come to mind. Very little dialogue takes place about this topic in my current community setting. Often there is negativity which is casually communicated in regards to this month. I am referring to comments like, “Why do we even need this month?” or “If you have a month, then we should have a white history month.” However, what burdens me most is the lack of healthy communication that takes place. Imagine what our community would look like if we each started having conversations with others who hold different values than us with the ultimate goal of hearing their perspective.
If we are honest with ourselves, the perspective in which we view the world is limited. Often it takes the voice of another to help expand the way in which we view the world. What would it look like to value the story and perspective of someone else? Do we believe that each person in our community has an equally valid voice that may just be smaller streams making up a river in which we can all draw from?
The ability to have a conversation with someone—knowing there is potential for life transformation—is almost magical. There is power in dialogue. Knowing that we are given a glimpse into the world of another image-bearer, while having the opportunity to learn and grow, causes community and intimacy to thrive. These conversations can be stretching, intense, and emotional! It requires great courage to seek out others and their stories. It requires great discipline to avoid wanting to prove someone wrong. It requires great humility to listen, love, and validate the voice of someone else.
With this stated, we return to the burden I feel concerning Black History Month. Is there a place for healthy dialogue with topics that may be unfamiliar to some? Are we willing to draw from another person’s stream in an intentional effort to connect with them and hear their story? I pray that our answer is “Yes!” and we find ourselves seeking to listen before we speak as each story told is unique and worthy of our attention.