On Black History Month
Today is February 23rd meaning that we are 23 days into celebrating Black History Month. This month-long celebration has been around since 1926 when it was called "Negro History Week". Historian Carter G. Woodson founded the celebration, and it was sponsored by an organization he co-founded - the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH). They picked the month of February because it coincided with the birthdays of former-slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglass and former president Abraham Lincoln who "freed the slaves" with the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1976, Black History Month was officialy recognized as a national holiday that we still celebrate to this day both in America and in other parts of the globe.
A lot of people do not agree with Black History month, saying that we were given the shortest month, or that the celebration has been commercialized and sanitized. I agree with these thoughts to some degree, but think it's still important to take the time to recognize the many Black people who historically and contemporarily are excelling in their fields or actively working for the equality of Black people in the United States and beyond. I also believe, however, that these individuals, and blackness more generally, should be celebrated anyday and everyday. I think the issue in having a national holiday is that blackness is only emphasized nationally for this one month and usually the same people are repeated over and over. These hisotrical figures are also sanitized so that they can be heralded as heroes and their more radical views are left out of the picture (see, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks). It also usually focuses on America alone which cuts out the entire continent of Africa and other countries in the diaspora that are accomplishing just as much as Americans and deserve the same level of recognition.
Here are some ways that we can celebrate Black history, Black people and Black culture everyday!
1. Embrace and Learn about Black Culture For Yourself: A lot of the focus for the month is on Black culture and, more specifically, figures who where the first in history to do something. I think that a lot of what we "learn" during this celebration can be done whenever. Take the time to learn about the history and different aspects of black culture for yourself. Don't wait until February when you may be obligated to do so.
2. Support Black Business: Support. Black. Business. Had to say it again. This should be pretty self-explanatory but really, support black business. There is really nothing to it. We are all trying to be successful and need each other to make it. The support doesn't always have to be monetary, but can be as simple as spreading the word about a business or project and reaching out with words or encouragement. This is especially important when it comes to supporting friends. [There will be a bigger blog post on supporting friends next week! Stay tuned!]
Side Note: I watched Black Panther (twice) and LISTEN. It's the best movie I've seen in a while. The actors were gorgeous. The visuals were breathtaking. And such a complex plot line. Not only a superhero movie, but one that allowed for some pretty important conversation in the Black community. Big big fan. Give them their coin and go see it! #WakandaForever