In light of “Black History Month,” we, the Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians, would like to express our support in the celebration of contributions made by the African-American community. Although today marks the 28-day observance of Black History Month, we extend this acknowledgment of contributions by the community throughout the entire year.
As a sovereign nation that has resisted extinction, our tribe understands that historic and contemporary traumas manifest through communities in particular ways. As Nishnaabeg writer Leanne Simpson says:
“We have survived 400 years of racialized, gendered violence designed to remove us from our lands and assimilate us into the colonizer’s agenda. The idea that we should all remain positive and calm, while 1,200 indigenous women and girls are disappeared in Canada, while black people are gunned down in the streets by white police officers, security guards, and vigilantes every 28 hours, while the legal system will not even provide a trial to the perpetrators of violence, is unfathomable…. I was reminded over and over this week that black and indigenous communities of struggle are deeply connected through our experiences with colonialism, oppression, and white supremacy.” (Yes Magazine, December 5, 2014, Accessed here)
The month, founded by African-American scholar Carter G. Woodson, is aimed at highlighting the contributions of black citizens, as well as providing an important guide for people to reflect on discrimination, and implications for today.
In such uncertain times, it is important that we stand together and create strength through unity. The month of February is a time for us to reflect on the tremendous struggles that African-Americans have endured, as well as celebrate strength and resilience as a people. Through times of oppression and fear, we must continue to remember the leaders of our communities, feminists, educators, elders, and our youth.
“You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.”
“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou (1928 – 2014)