‘Black dignity:’ A recent book puts it front and center — as it should be | Anwar Curtis

April 19, 2019 6:30 am

Not too long ago, while out and about, I heard a woman observing that, like children, adults need a village of their own. It was an unusual observation. But it was one that, as my wedding day closes in, stuck with me.

Anwar Curtis (Capital-Star file)

In a previous column, I shared my thoughts on ways to channel stressful energy by taking the time to read more. Reading helps me process my thoughts and everyday motions on issues ranging from work and meeting deadlines to reflecting on my decision-making, my relationship goals, and other matters.

A little more than a month-and-a-half ago I was introduced to author Austin Channing-Brown’s  I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness. It was recommended to me by the Rev. Hank Johnson, pastor of Harrisburg Brethren in Christ Church, on Derry Street in the Capital City.

In the book, Channing-Brown shares with the world her experience creating opportunities to be seen and heard as a black girl who matures into a black woman between the ages of early education until her 20s, doing ministry work and simply living in a multicultural yet predominately white settings.

I promptly recommended the book to my fiancée, and a few of my friends, so that we could share our thoughts on the text.

A book such as Channing-Brown’s holds significant value for me because as I mature and build a stronger relationship with my soon-to-be wife, I have the chance to appreciate the obstacles that she has faced. And it allows me to reevaluate not only my fiancée’s needs, but also the needs of other black women who are my relatives, friends, and coworkers.

One thing in Channing-Brown’s book that stood out to me was the author’s honesty and patience. She recalled a time in her lie when she was criticized for “speaking white,” just because she had an impressive vocabulary and spoke with confidence. There were also the cultural differences she ran into with both her black urban friends and her suburban white friends.

Growing up, I, along with some of my women friends, faced similar struggles because of the way some of us were raised.

The book allowed me to have an open dialogue with my fiancée and friends, as we explored certain experiences that we may have faced and still are facing. That includes, for instance, black women being extra cautious when their male counterparts leave the house each and every day — simply because of stereotypes being thrown upon us daily.

Or there’s the disconnect between black men and women over efforts by black women to be seen and heard in the workplace; or at home when there’s not enough communication and understanding.

I learned, and was reassured so much, after reading this slender, 185-page volume. The shared experience of reading it with friends also allowed me to reconnect with the adult village that we need to protect and nurture.

Capital-Star Opinion contributor Anwar Curtis tells the stories of the people of Pennsylvania’s Capital City. Readers may email him at [email protected]. His work appears biweekly. 

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