As February comes to an end, I want to reflect on Black History Month. I believe that it is important to recognize that the end of this month does not mean the end of education. Of celebration. Of remembrance and reflection. Although Black History Month is coming to a close, we need to recognize that the experience of being Black does not end with this month. I invite you to be a part of the history that we are creating right now. I ask you to fight for meaningful change that extends past this month’s symbolism and remembrance.
What is Black History Month?
Black History Month is a time for us to remember generations of Black Americans that fought for justice and equality. Who paved a way for us today. During this annual celebration, we acknowledge the central role that Black Americans have in U.S. history.
The origin of this month began in 1926 as “Negro History Week,” founded by Carter G. Woodson. To learn more about the formal history of Black History Month, look here.
This is a month that symbolizes celebration, gratitude for our ancestors, and pride in who we are and where we come from. This month we celebrate the diversity that exists within the Black community and how Black excellence enriches the very fabric of our country.
Black History Month is a time to intentionally honor Black leaders, activists, artists, engineers, and way-makers who have contributed to the foundation of American society and history.
This month is a reminder to educate ourselves on American history rather than accept the white-washed version that we were fed in school.
This is a time to remember the triumph, achievements, and excellence of Black leaders in many fields.
AND Black history month is more than inspiring quotes that are shared one month out of the year.
We need to take the opportunity to evaluate the white-washed version of American history that we have been taught in school. This is the time to acknowledge that Black Americans were trapped in a narrative that insisted that they were not fully human. Not capable of feeling pain, or deserving of basic human rights. This is a time to look at the reality of our history AND the reality of our present.
This month, it is crucial to remember that we still have work to do. We acknowledge the fight, torture, trauma, triumph, joy, pain, and loss of influential and historical Black leaders and generations of Black Americans before us. AND we should look back at the roots of our nation and acknowledge the insurmountable pain, oppression, and dehumanization that was inflicted on our ancestors. We NEED TO acknowledge how this history still permeates our society today. To acknowledge the generational trauma that exists within the Black community in America. We NEED TO reflect on the ugly and painful parts so that we can figure out how to move forward in our continued fight for equality. The pain of racism still exists. Inequality is prevalent and ingrained within almost every system and institution in America.
During Black History Month (and always) we acknowledge the life, community, and culture that Black Americans have cultivated in the midst of pain, humiliation, and de-humanization.
We joyously celebrate how beautiful it is to be Black. Being Black is not exhausting—but oppression is.
We are eternally grateful for the Black artists, activists, poets, engineers, scientists, and leaders of generations before us. Their efforts, discoveries, and triumphs are not in vain.
We acknowledge Black mental health. And uplift Black joy, Black excellence, art, voices, futures, and dreams
AND let us not forget the complexity of our history. How it intertwines with the pain still felt today. To move towards change in a meaningful way, we must acknowledge the pain of our past. We must acknowledge the experience of Black Americans today.
Let us not forget that we are still fighting for justice and equality.
I invite you this month to challenge yourself. Allow yourself to celebrate and rejoice, learn about monumental Black leaders of our past. While also recognizing that this is a time for all Americans to educate themselves on American history and current racial division.
Push yourself to be uncomfortable. Be brave enough to look at the truth of America’s past and current treatment of Black Americans.
Educate yourself on the truth of American history and how you can move forward and contribute to the fight for equality. Do your own research and ask questions. Uplift the voices of Black people sharing their experience, and most importantly LISTEN with an open mind and an open heart. I invite you to take action. To be a part of the history that we are creating right now.
“This may be hard at first, as it is hard for all of us. But history is filled with stories of people making a decision to do hard and uncomfortable things.”Kenneth Smith
If you do not know where to start, educate yourself by reading books such as White Fragility or So You Want to Talk About Race. Consume content created by Black authors, artists, speakers, and poets of our past and present. It can be hard to know where to start when it comes to researching our history.
As a small and non-extensive guide, here are some terms and people that you can Google to introduce yourself to an honest depiction of American history that goes beyond what we were taught in school:
I encourage you to go farther and continue to research terms that are also not listed here, but are important and valuable:
- Jim Crow Laws
- The Civil Rights Movement
- The School to Prison Pipeline
- White privilege
- Medical experiments on enslaved women
- Prison Labor in America
- The War on Drugs
- George Stinney Jr.
- James Baldwin
- Marsha P. Johnson
- Harlem Renaissance
- Black Wall street
- The Tuskegee Experiment
- Racial healthcare disparities
- Black Midwives
- Racial disparities in pregnancy outcomes
- Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors
- History of slavery and policing in America
- Institutional racism
Again, this list is only a compilation of terms, events, and people to get you started. After this month is over, I invited you to continue to expand your mind and seek information about how you can contribute to the fight for equality. We are grateful for Black History Month, because it is a time for all Americans to intentionally recognize the resilience, beauty, and contribution of Black people in America. And this acknowledgement should not end with this month. Continue to listen, educate, and fight for equality.
Happy Black History Month! I’m Black and I’m Proud!
If you want to read more from me, look here. Thank you for your support!