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What makes Black History Month special? Keristen Holmes shares her perspective

ABC10’s Keristen Holmes reflects on Black History Month and what it means to her.

All month, we here at ABC10 have featured profiles in Black History from our area. It's one that ABC10's Keristen Holmes took a personal interest in and want to pass along her perspective:

Demetriana is a student at Burbank High School who we featured in another story this month about a class she’s taking that aims to empower black students. 

"I love being a black girl because we're just lit. I wouldn't want to be any other race. And we're powerful and we're really strong. And I encourage all black women, at least at Burbank, to take this class because it will really benefit them," she said.

That sentiment of empowerment isn't always felt or shared in the black community. But a sense of pride in one’s own culture is life-changing.

A University of Washington study says that "For African-American students, data, alongside societal attitudes and stereotypes, often present a negative picture: a wide academic achievement gap separating them from their white peers. Higher rates of discipline and absenteeism. Discrimination by other students, teachers and the larger community. And (in 2016), a study indicated that black girls, from an early age, are perceived as more aggressive and sexual – less innocent – than white girls."

The ability to explore and embrace racial identity, leading to a positive self-image centered around race, may make a lasting difference in student performance and confidence. And that's just one of the many areas where Black History Month or the study of Black History all year helps.

If our kids can see themselves positively represented in today’s media and throughout history - that cultural recognition can and will spur confidence. That cultural confidence and pride can then inspire the next Martin Luther King, Junior, Oprah Winfrey, or Nasa's Kathryn Johnson.

I visit a lot of schools where classes are predominantly black because I believe in being visible representation in my community. Too often, when I speak to those students the lack of self-confidence - whether it's in their present circumstances or hope for the future - is palpable. It's sad. Letting our kids know that they can do it is a step in the right direction for them to be able to do it.

Continue the conversation with Keristen on Facebook.

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WATCH MORE: Black History Month: Remembering the historically black town of Allensworth

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