By: Kimberly Dalbert
“When you control a man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his actions.”Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History
African American or Black, do you worry which one is correct? Do you speak up or stay silent when talking about racial injustice and inequality with another race? If so, you’re not alone. With so much racial injustice and inequality, it can feel like a very uncomfortable subject.
Austin Community College will be celebrating Black History Month and the importance of what it means to the ACC and Austin community.
ACCENT met with Dr. Khayree Williams, Director at Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation Center (TRHT), and Jason Brown, Manager at Black Representation of Achievement Through Student Support (BRASS), to discuss Black History Month, events, places to reach out for help or questions, and what Black History Month means to them.
View Our Segment on What Black History Month means to the ACC Community
Q. When thinking of Black History Month what is the first thing that comes to mind?
“Pride, proud to be a black man every day, proud of ancestors’ accomplishments,” Brown said.
Q. Do you feel we need to change the narrative of Black History Month this year focusing more on people like Carter G. Woodson and his creation of Negro History week in 1926, and its origin to help understand inequality today instead of commonly known figures like Dr. Martin Luther King jr., Rosa parks and Harriet Tubman?
“We shouldn’t change the narrative or downplay sacrifices of our civil rights heroes. Black History should be more year-round not just the shortest month of the year,” Brown said.
Williams shared a mutual feeling with Brown’s statement that Black History should be discussed all the time and not just during Black History Month.
Q. How do you feel about discussions of psychological distress and mental health being addressed during Black History Month?
“I love that we as people discuss mental health openly. Growing up mental health seemed tabooer, especially in my family, along with a lot of other black households. Acknowledging and discussing mental health helps us heal as a whole,” Brown said.
Williams admits that it is something that has for far too long not wanted to be addressed in the black community.
“Speak up and be honest when we are struggling, this is something that should be discussed all the time not just during Black History Month,” Williams said.
Q. What would you say to ACC students experiencing uncertainty about how they feel regarding recent events of racial injustice and inequality, and also might be afraid to talk about it.
“You should have support in safe places, allies, and clinical counselors,” Brown stresses.
“All of us are afraid because it is not an easy conversation to have. We do not want to say the wrong thing or come off as awkward, or offend someone, so it is easy to shy away. That is what TRHT is there for, ACC campuses and the community,” Williams said.
Q. Black History Month was created to honor the accomplishments of Black Americans. Do you think too much time is spent on the struggle and not the accomplishments?
“It has to be a balanced conversation, if you do not understand the progress you have made, then you will make some of those same mistakes again,” Williams said.
Q. What does it mean to have a diverse environment, and do you think Austin Community College has this?
“Diverse people have their own characteristics and they are unique from each other. Austin Community College is a champion at diversity and makes sure everyone has a seat at the table,” Brown said.
“Diversity is not just on paper and in numbers, it goes beyond that regardless of make-up everyone has an equal say, and wants everyone to feel cared for and loved in the Austin Community College community,” Williams said.
To learn more about BRASS or TRHT visit the sources below:
Black Representation of Achievement Through Student Support (BRASS) is a community dedicated to support interests and needs of Black students through higher education. BRASS strives to “produce a pipeline of successful future professionals who are Black representations of achievement prepared to be the next generation of corporate and community leaders.”
The Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Campus Center (TRHT) at ACC is a partnership with our community to build cross-racial relationships that lead to racial healing and an exploration of ways to transform the college and community for greater inclusion and equity.