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Celebrating "Black Excellence."


Google "Black Excellence" and you will find definitions ranging from "...a high level of achievement..." to " ...a mindset backed by actions that display leadership through perseverance." You will also find a lot of Black people are rejecting the pressure and oppression of Black excellence as unrealistic and causing mental breakdown. How can a whole tribe, race, demographic be excellent?


The reality is some of us are pretty unambitious, pretty lazy, and pretty mediocre - the opposite of excellent. Others are struggling, fighting fatigue, illness, poverty, and lack - they can't afford to chase excellence. There's also a group that is criminal and anti-social - far from excellent. We are just like any other demographic out there. We are just ordinary people who want to live our lives without pressure and oppression. Without needing "excellence" to prove that we are human and therefore deserving of human rights and safety just like everybody else!


Not all of us wake up thinking, "today I must be excellent because I am Black." Many of us wake up dreading being Black in the office, Black in the classroom, Black on the subway, and Black in the bank. Because these are the places where our excellence is supposed to shine bright like a diamond. Yet, these place were not created with us in mind. Expecting excellence to arise in abrasive spaces is like expecting a rose to bloom without sunlight - unrealistic.


But it is Black History Month in Canada and we MUST celebrate Black excellence because those that have achieved it have indeed bloomed without sunlight. We celebrate trailblazers and time changers. We celebrate "the Firsts" and the ones who broke through all sorts of ceilings. We celebrate them and maybe even emulate their tenacity and drive, but let it not be to our personal detriment. We deserve a whole month of celebration not just because some of us are excellent, but because most of us are doing the best we can in spite of racism, discrimination, and a history that would have wiped us out one way or the other. We celebrate our survival, our growth, our perseverance, and our future. We celebrate ourselves in a world where our very nature was demonized; criminalized; and then utilized as if we cannot be excellent.


We can't all be "the first Black person to..." But we can all strive to live full and rich lives that honour our Blackness. We can choose to celebrate those that came before us and paved a way so that we don't have to sacrifice all that they did in the name of excellence. We can do our best and walk our paths knowing that even if we don't achieve excellence, others better positioned to do so will and it will benefit all of us.


So here's to Black happiness and Black contentment. Not everything we do will prove to be excellent. As Black people, we are so much more than a gold star. We celebrate our happiness when we catch a hold of it. We celebrate our contentment in those moments when we feel safe and secure in our skin. We celebrate the purpose we carry within ourselves - for us, by us. This Black History Month, let's celebrate the whole Black experience - the good, the bad, and the mediocre. Happy Black History Month, Canada.



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