Audre Lorde said, "If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive."
It is this quote that always comes to mind when I think of my life as an American of African decent.
I am quite sure that similar words were on the mind of historian Carter G. Woodson when he first implemented National Negro Week in February 1926.
In my family, black history isn't a week, or a month. It's a continuous discussion. My grandparents owned a huge, tattered, leather-bond book that listed a number of black heroes and heroines. I remember spending hours upon hours flipping through the onion-skin-thin leafs of text, absorbing as much as my young mind could hold.
Had it not been for that book and the knowledge I received from my father, grandfather and a handful of great-aunts and uncles, I would have believed that the only black contributors to American history were Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, George Washington Carver and Martin Luther King -- for these were the only historic figures of African-American descent that I was taught about in school.
If not for my family and that book, I would have completed my education, blissfully ignorant of the rich and textured history of my forefathers and foremothers.
Read the rest of this op-ed at AOL News.
By the way, Gina Misiroglu of Red Room put me in touch with the AOL people, which is one of the great ways she's bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room's authors.
Causes Bernice McFadden Supports
Hurston Wright Foundation
Girls Write Now
Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS)