I'm a mom to two Jamaican-American boys who sport long locs & have vibrant personalities and although they are brothers who share similar interests there are quite a few things that set them apart. t's important to my husband and I to have the boys understand that their differences are what make them special, from physical traits to talents and everything in between. Black History Month is the perfect time to sit down with them to discuss diversity and embracing not only each other's differences but those of their peers and within society. It's a great way for us to discuss the achievements of African Americans of the past and present but we believe it's also a conversation that can be had, and is relevant all year round. As fans of the WWE the boys truly admire the WWE Superstars and Divas and it's great that these professionals can share their experiences with racism and teach kids of all ages how to overcome obstacles. On the WWE blog, WWE Diva Naomi and Superstar Xavier Woods share their Black History Month Reflections:
Naomi Black History Month Blog
Black History Month presents an important opportunity, not only to celebrate the countless achievements of African Americans and their role in shaping our history and culture, but also to reflect on where we are now as a nation, and how we can continue to grow together. Black History Month should be a time to learn from mistakes that were made in the past and aspire to a time when the only race that defines us is the human race.
Like so many African American children, I grew up dealing with racism and ignorance, and I know kids across the country are still dealing with the same obstacles. That is why I love to work outside of the ring and spread positive messages, just as much as I love performing inside the ring. When I interact with young fans, I want to instill a sense of confidence in each and every child, just as my mother did for me. For 35 years, my mother worked tirelessly to support my brother and me. She was always there to make sure I stayed on track, even when I wanted to give up or when someone told me I wasn’t good enough. She made sure the word “quit” wasn’t in my vocabulary. Throughout my entire life, I’ve never seen my mother quit. Everyone has their insecurities, but I learned early on that no one but me can determine my worth or decide my limitations. That is the message I hope to pass on to every person questioning themselves and their ability.
It’s so important to me that my fans know their inner beauty and self-worth, and that they never allow someone else’s label to limit their success. I knew that I was destined to be a WWE Diva and refused to give up. I live by the mantra, “Don’t follow your dreams, chase them,” and I hope the young fans watching me perform know that if I was able to become a WWE Diva, they can achieve their wildest dreams too. I’m here because I beat the odds and so can you.
While I am proud to represent black women, my role as a Diva and an athlete is to be an empowering voice for women, period. Regardless of race, we all want the same things: love, respect and our individuality. My hope for the future is that, by loving what makes each of us different, we will learn to celebrate the diversity of those around us. There’s no better time than now to look in the mirror, find what we love about the reflection staring back, and widen the lens through which we view each other.
Xavier Woods – Black History Month Blog
Black History Month is an important time to celebrate the influence African-Americans had on history, but it’s also important to recognize that this history isn’t just “black history,” it’s everyone’s history.
While we’ve come a long way in a relatively short amount of time, we have far to go and it’s so important to me that I continue my family’s legacy of progression. My grandmother is the strongest person I know. She lived through hardships I can’t imagine and made so many sacrifices in order for her children and her children’s children to benefit and lead a better life. Because of her sacrifices and the sacrifices of so many others, I’m able to pursue an education and live out my dreams. That’s why, in addition to being a WWE Superstar, I am actively working on attaining my PhD. Despite the hardships my grandmother faced, she is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. She always has a smile on her face and that has had a profound effect on me. I always look for the positive in life and never stop trying to better myself.
Back in high school, there was a wrestler, who was a few years older than me and the star athlete of the team. After he graduated, I won the first big tournament of the year. I was so excited and commented to my coach that I felt just like that star athlete that had graduated. He said, “Why? You should feel like Austin Watson. You should never compare yourself to anyone around you.” That stuck with me. It taught me to be proud of who I am and my own achievements, whether that’s winning a match or not conforming to anyone else’s idea of who I am or should be. That’s something I really try to pass along to the kids I meet as a WWE Superstar. Growing up, I didn’t have great social skills, but I found that I was able to better communicate and find friends through video games. That’s actually what brought me out of my shell and lead me to pursue sports. Of course, being a young, black “nerd” who liked to play video games wasn’t considered “cool,” and I got picked on. In adolescence, you look to your peers who are “cool” and “popular” and you let them define who you think you should be rather than celebrate what makes you unique. Being a gamer is what makes me unique and fun! There is no need to be ashamed of who you are and what makes you happy.
Regardless of race, it is important to live by your own standards and not those set for you by society. We are all individual people, not groups labeled according to color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc. I hope that we can use Black History Month as a reminder to build bridges rather than boxes.
How do you teach your children about diversity and the importance of Black History Month?