By Sierra Lewter
When asked why I have pride to be a Black American, I am overwhelmed with answers. However, when I look at the resilience that my people have shown, I feel the most honor. A person who is resilient is one who is able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions. History has displayed time and time again just how resilient and strong African Americans in this country are. Their strength perhaps wasn’t necessarily out of desire but absolutely due to necessity. We see these resilient traits when we look at slavery.
The resilience of Black people is evident when we analyze the tragedies that they had to endure and overcome when many others likely would have caved. In fact the saying, “if there is a will, there is a way” truly symbolizes the strength, resilience and determination of Black people to overcome and succeed despite the odds. For example, many slaves taught themselves how to read and write, and many others even went as far as to learn multiple languages while being held captive. Another example is the creation of chitterlings which resulted from Blacks being forced to make a meal from the scraps or small intestine of the hog. In fact, I must admit that I personally feel great pride from being the descendent of inventors, leaders, and brave men and women that time and time again demonstrated the ability to take what others thought were scraps, dead, or even nothing and breathe new life into it.
The traumatic and unwanted reality that blacks had to face created leaders like Harriet Tubman who like many, took a bad situation and used it as fuel to inspire others by keeping the spirit “we shall overcome” alive. The sole fact that one is able to recall and admire the works of a leader from around 150 years ago, shows just how impactful the black leader has been on the country. Martin Luther King Jr. is another of example of a resilient leader of his time who motivated and energized those around him. He created hope and most of all, he showed true resiliency and gave others the strength to remain determined and steadfast despite the situations unfolding before them. Segregation in this country was designed to keep African Americans in a subordinate status by denying them equal rights and keeping them isolated from whites. It took strong and resilient people to be able to fight back and push for equality. I find pride thinking about the thousands who sacrificed their comfortability, and in some cases, their life in order to create a better future for generations to come.
Reading stories about the situations that teenagers my age put themselves in, in order to show resistance to the injustices happening during that time make me feel the most gratification. Not only because it leaves me in awe of their absolute bravery and strength but it gives me the courage I need in order to push past my struggles. Resilient African Americans worldwide continue to break down barriers. In fact, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to witness the election of the nation’s first Black President, Barack Obama. How inconceivable is it for a Black man to occupy the White House that was built by slaves. While it is undeniable that discrimination and racism continues to exist even today, the history and evidence of the resilience of African Americans should serve as hope and inspiration to all African American children, teenagers and adults. Indeed it is an amazing experience to be an African American because I know that my ancestors have demonstrated unheard of resiliency since the beginning of time.