The Importance of Honoring Black History Month
This guest blog post is by James Bell III, Founding Principal of Just Solutions LLC.
Every year Black History Month sparks the annual debate about using one month to celebrate the history and accomplishments of African Americans. In 1926, when Carter G. Woodson pioneered the idea of Negro History Week, I am sure he would have never imagined a whole month to coordinate the teaching of history of Black Americans in our nation’s public schools. And now 95 years later, I want more.
The shortest month of the year is not nearly long enough to capture and recognize the contributions of my people. The shortest month of the year is also not long enough to learn about the effects of racism and how to challenge negative stereotypes that plague the Black community. Or is that long enough to keep people comfortable? I often bring up this point in consulting that cultural competence and DEI work cannot be a check the box activity. And for me, it feels like that is what we have turned Black History Month into.
Even going back to my own elementary experience, I recall the sanitization of history, the absolution of white folks in their role of slavery and other acts of atrocity. And even now as an adult with children of my own, I wonder how I can explain to them tactfully and honestly what their ancestors experienced and endured for us to reach the liberties we experience now. This can only be done by holding each and every one accountable.
The shortsightedness associated with this limited view of Black History Month is an ongoing opportunity for us to do more. How are you supporting Black communities outside of February? Are you engaging in difficult conversations that allow you to reflect on your own privilege and how it has been used for both good and bad? These questions are just the beginning of a long list of considerations that we can implement to extend Black History Month into Black History Year.
I have the privilege of being Black each and every day. And I am grateful for this despite the adversity that has come with my Blackness. Every day I celebrate my Black History and I implore you to do the same.
For more about James please check him out on LinkedIn
Photo Credit: pexels.com
In an effort to hold ourselves accountable to recognizing the contributions of Black Americans for more than just the month of February, as James encourages us all to do, Event Garde will be publishing one post per month. Each post will appear either in blog posts or social media, to highlight the contributions of Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) groups. Be sure to check out next month’s blogpost where we’ll discuss the actions we have taken to make good on the commitments made in our racial equity statement and our plans going forward. What actions has your organization taken or are they planning to take to recognize the contributions of Black Americans? What could you be doing?
For additional resources on Black/African American History Month and ways you might get involved, please see the links below.
African American History Month Resources (teaching resources included)
The importance of black history and why it should be celebrated beyond February (includes video accounts of Black Americans on what Black History Month means to them)