I can’t turn it off
I have a unique perspective, and I can’t turn it off. I am a 4th generation Mexican-American. I grew up in Gary, Indiana — in the 90’s when it was about 95% Black. In my elementary school, which was a gifted and talented school (Banneker Elementary)… we didn’t sing the national anthem, we sang the Negro National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing. I didn’t realize the importance of this until Colin Kaepernick, began his protest of not standing during the national anthem. That’s when the history of the song and full lyrics came to light, not that they weren’t always there — just I never thought to research it. I realized that other songs we sang like Nina Simone’s Young, Gifted and Black… and thought about all of the posters hanging around the school were all meant to empower us. I say us, yes, I know that I’m not Black — but I am a person of color, and I am a product of the Gary Public School System. We also sang a song, I’m not sure of the origin—but they lyrics we’re “Excellence, is our goal… I will strive, and that’s for sure.”
I say all of this because this experience is engrained in me, these are my roots and foundation. Leaving this community for high school, and for college and beyond — I still think back to these days. I learned about Black History beyond February — because it’s American History — not Black History. We had posters of everyone from Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King, Jr., and John Washington Carver, to Langston Hughes and Florence Griffin Joyner. My principal, and most of my teachers were black or non-white. Now as an adult, I understand how unique that is, that most people don’t see POC in leadership roles… as influencers. I understand now how important representation in leadership is, and uniquely as a graphic designer how important representation is in the media.
My goal in writing is my hope that we can change perception, and start conversations about biases.