By: Ch'ade Delotte Bennett
As we currently enjoy February or more popularly known in my house as Black History Month, I think about my mother and other black women that continue to encourage and inspire me. My mother has always emphasized the importance of awareness and appreciation about knowing who I am and where I came from: I am aware that if I was born in a different society that isn't as inclusive and accepting as Miami, and if it weren’t for certain pioneers, I wouldn't have the same privileges. As a young Black woman, acknowledging my heritage and my past impacts the person that I am and the person that I plan to be because I realize that I have the power, privilege, and potential to become the best possible version of myself.
Knowledge of my heritage has given me pride in my culture and has influenced the strides that I have taken and plan to take in the future. For example, my mother, a single West-Indian woman who immigrated to America at a young age with a toddler, brought her culture and values. Even in troubled times, when my family was homeless with no help or money, my mother maintained her values, passed to her through generations, and made sure her children practiced them.
To my mother and generations of women before us, resilience, persistence, and integrity are paramount. Her tenacity to remain determined no matter the circumstance has inspired a work ethic in me. Her resilience has inspired me to be adaptable in any environment despite any obstacles. Her integrity has encouraged me to be my own person instead of following others. My mother practiced these values, as did my grandmother, and now every day I live in a similar fashion. My mother was able to take my siblings and me from destitution to now living comfortably because she utilized the values and ways of living that my grandmother once taught her.
She has also encouraged me to look to other Black women as guides: Women like Michelle Obama, an American lawyer, university administrator, and writer; or Audrey Jeffers, a Trinidadian social worker and the first female member of the Legislative Council of Trinidad and Tobago. These women have aspired for greatness and inspired me, so that I also become a pioneer and positively impact my generation and ones to come, inspiring many young Black girls like me.
I can’t think of a life without my West Indian culture. It has shaped me into the person that I am today, and without this knowledge, I would be without aspirations with no way to make my ancestors proud. According to a CNN article about African American women in history, titled “10 Incredible Black Women You Should Know About,”a study in 2015 concluded that only about 9% of class time is spent on the contributions that African Americans have made. If more schools made an effort spend more time teaching students --especially students of color-- about their heritage, then these students will finally know their power and potential. I have my mother who gave me the knowledge of my heritage to empower and inspire me to be the best version of myself.
My name is Ch'ade Delotte-Bennett. I enjoy spending money and taking naps.