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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

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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.

Event Garde Racial Equity Statement Update

As an exclusively white organization, Event Garde recognizes that we have only begun on a much longer journey toward structural and not merely symbolic change. Here are the commitments we made in our racial equity statement last year, some examples of actions we’ve taken since it was published and examples of ways we continue to hold ourselves accountable going forward. 

Read More >

Racial Equity Statements: Eloquent Words, but Do You Mean It?

2020 brought a significant increase in organizations providing statements and reflections on diversity, equity, and inclusion. While they were appreciated, it also prompts a series of actions.

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The Importance of Honoring Black History Month

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, we’re 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, James Bell III wants more.

Read More >

Indigenous land acknowledgments as forms of appreciation, not appropriation.

Creating and using land acknowledgement statements can be a concrete step toward bringing historical and contemporary oppression of Indigenous people into present consciousness. They can communicate appreciation and honor those whose land you now stand on. However, they can also show up as cultural appropriation or modern-day colonization.

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Healthcare, we have a problem.

How is it that the place I should be going to be healed, isn’t equipped to handle discussions on racism and its impact on my health? Well, because it is hard to be honest and say, I helped to create this problem. Or help to perpetuate this problem. Or even further, I benefit from this problem. So how do we fix it?

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Centering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Healthy Aging

Healthy aging. The phrase evokes images of older adults riding bikes, working in a garden or eating healthy foods. Healthy aging is so much more than activities older adults engage in each day. No one wakes up one day in their 60s in sudden good health. Healthy aging is part of the life continuum, meaning it’s influenced by what happens to us across our lifetime and by the conditions in the social and physical environments in which people are born, live, play, and work.

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