Black History Month is empowering
By Linda Mkapa
February 23, 2017
Linda is a OneGoal – New York Y2 Fellow at Academy for Software Engineering (AFSE). Linda is already anticipating her 2021 college graduation because it will place her one step closer toward her dream of becoming a District Attorney. While many motivations have sparked her interest in law, it is the continuous unjust persecution of people of color and the lack of strong female black women in power that motivate her to reach her dreams. Here she shares her story.
Being a girl from a small town in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania doesn’t really expose you to matters about race. Everything was a routine: go to school, accept what was being taught, don’t ask too many questions. It stayed that way until my family immigrated to New York when I was seven years old. Everything was so distinct, from the environment to the culture to—of course—the education.
If you would’ve asked me what Black History Month was when I was a seven-year-old girl growing up in Africa, confusion would have been my response. Now, as a 17-year-old that has spent a decade in the U.S., Black History Month to me means power, prosperity and triumph. Being a female of color means so much more to me.
Black History Month is when people who have overcome so much get to be recognized for how incredible they are. It is a time when so much of what people of color have struggled for gets to be uncovered and taught to individuals, especially younger generations. Black History Month is particularly important to me because I think educating younger generations is so crucial, and it’s something that needs to be emphasized a lot more.
From the age of five I made an oath to myself that I wanted to become a lawyer. At first it was because of my dad (he’s a lawyer), then because I wanted to show how strong I was, and now it is because I want to help and inform people. My father, my strength and drive, is still a very vital reason of why I want to be a lawyer but now it is so much more than that.
Learning about how Black people were evaluated in the past, how we were evaluated by the public and what we still deal with has made me want to drive conversations on the relevance of Black History Month to students of color, and other kids as well.
I’m especially driven to influence young girls who aren’t aware of their potential: young girls who doubt that they can do whatever they fix their mind to. I want to let them know that they are gifted and qualified to do wonderful things and to make the changes in the world that they hope to see. When I was younger I had a lot of disbelief in my ability to achieve amazing things because I wasn’t sure I would be able to cope well with the American education system after immigrating from Africa. I didn’t think I would be able to do any of the things I am doing now, let alone get accepted into wonderful colleges.
As a Black female who still has so much to learn about the world, I will use college as a way to not only educate myself but to someday be able to educate other people.
My dream of one day becoming a District Attorney will be a way for me to help young kids, especially girls, see the possibilities out there once you work hard and stand for what you believe in. College will allow me to get one step closer in standing up for things like racial equality and the unjust justice system. Being an auspicious lawyer to me will mean that I get to not only express how important it is to me to be a woman of color, but what I can do to assist others and be their voice.