February is known as Black History Month and Studio City Patch is using this space to focus on profiles about African-American people who work and play in Studio City. Check back every day for new stories about people who have lived here for decades—teachers, activists and the new generation of black youth.
Some seventh graders at took some time out to discuss the meaning of Black History Month with Studio City Patch:
“It’s not something I really relate to,” said Jamillah Boswell, who has a white Armenian mom and an African American dad who are divorced. “I mean, I understand the importance of it, but it’s not all that important to my everyday life.”
Demarius Mack said, “It’s about our ancestors and we have got to help one another, and we can do that by knowing what happened in the past.”
Demarius added, “We know about the slavery and it has enlightened me, but it’s like it happened in the B.C. times. It seems so long ago.”
Scottie Noyd, who is an actor, said, “It was meaningful that we see how we stuck together a long time ago through all the crimes and hateful things done against us.”
Although they all live in a predominantly white part of the San Fernando Valley, they have generally not felt very different in their everyday life. But have they experienced racism? Yes, all said, to one extent or another.
Scottie said a girl once told him she was “not allowed to play with brown people.”
Amir Karenh said, “I remember when I was younger a little kid asked me ‘Why are you brown? I wish I was brown.’”
Zaria Nobles said learning the bad parts about Black History makes her feel bad. “And people believing racist things makes me feel bad,” she said.
Demarius said, “God made me for a reason and when I look back [at our history] it makes me want to do better.”
Scottie said he started looking at his heritage “when I was a kid, like 5 or 6 years old. There are young black people who are clueless about what happened in the past. There is also a lot of things that are not in the books.”
The teens discussed issues of interracial dating, light and dark skin color and use of the N-word.
“I never liked the word,” said Jamillah.
“I hate the word—it’s ghetto,” Scottie added. “I’m not allowed to say it at home.”
Most of them said they don’t talk about their racial heritage at home very often, and they’re not sure it’s important to make a big deal about it during the month of February.
“We haven’t really talked about it all that much this month,” said Faith Amoussou. “Now why do we have to be reminded?”
“I think it’s really good to have this month,” Scottie said. “But I’m not sure we need to see it on every corner.”
The halls of Walter Reed have displays and signs about Black History heroes, costumes and more.
“But we have to agree that it’s important to know this history,” Demarius said.