Black History Month
7 Ways to Honor Black History Month – ICOY Assistant Executive Director Sarah Daniels
While it has been proven time and time again of the pandemic’s impact in conjunction with the civil unrest that has occurred over the last 24 months, particularly school and business shutdowns, housing moratorium, and other disproportionality that has revealed itself at the expense of Black and brown communities. There have also been recent historical moments to celebrate. Last year, major moment happened when the nation inaugurated its first Black vice president, a woman and a graduate of a historically Black university, and Georgia sent its first Black senator to the Capitol.
February has also been a historical month of proving that we value not only the lives of black people, but the growth of the black community in all its forms: mentally, educationally, professionally, economically, and many other areas. It is my belief that we must always honor the never-ending contributions the Black community has made through historical events such as the civil rights movement, politicians, inventors, and how we show history is continuing to be made today and every day going forward. The way that people commemorate the month and celebrate Black heroes differ and can come from many walks of life and recommendations made. Whether it is your friend who is launching a small business and you wish to support their vision or supporting through charitable donations, tuning in to black sitcoms and shows that promotes black culture and trying to understand what it means to be black in America. Here are some ways that you can celebrate Black history, not just for the month of February, but all year around:
1. Support Black-Owned Businesses
Although it has become easier for black people to obtain licenses, permits, and other documentation to form a business, many black-owned business are still facing structural racism, which hinders the sustainability and the resources that the communities need. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, 40% of Black business owners (BBO) were forced to close their doors—which is 2x the decline that white business owners had to experience. Increased customers, especially during BHM has been an intentional task for many and showcases a wide range of categories, from fashion, art, beauty/cosmetics, home decor, and more. If you are unsure of how to start, you can find many more through the #blackowned hashtag via social media, and the online boutique Etsy highlights searching the directory through Official Black Wall Street website.
2. Learn About Black Figures Who Have Contributed to Various Communities
Going beyond what is taught in a classroom setting and taking the extra initiative to learn about Black history can be an effective way to impact change in the lives of Black people. One way that I have found to be extremely helpful as a black woman is to visit a black or African American history museum or site that holds significance for Black History. Specifically, visiting the Civil Rights Museums at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, the National Historical Park where his childhood home is located, and the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, GA.
3. Donate to Organizations that Promote Anti-Racism Equity
Charitable donations are extremely important when it comes to supporting a movement or group that is focused on impacting true change. Donations can assist with funding for programs, legal costs, as well as salaries that maintain the organization’s operations. For example, many non-profits rely heavily on funding all year around to carry out their mission and vision. Despite the amount, multiple donations coupled can keep services and programs afloat. A few Black national and local supporting movements for Black youth are Black Lives Matter, NAACP, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, Color of Change, Black Girls Code, and the Black Youth Project.
4. Support and Learn About Black People and Their Culture
One way that we as people connect is often through social media and TV today. More specifically, through movies, documentaries, and other ways that display the exploration of the Black experience on Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming services. The CNET staff has compiled a selection of feature films and documentaries for Black History Month 2022, including the wonderful Summer of Soul and Black is King.
5. Attend and Collaborate on Events Hosted by Black People
As an opportunity to reflect and celebrate the contributions of Black people, attending an event going as far as collaborating to pay it forward ensures that we are dedicated to creating and fostering an equitable and just society.
6. Participate in Black History Month Celebrations
You can find local events that are happening in your area. If you are unable to attend in-person events due to COVID-19, there are online Black History Month events nearly every day this month and can be found here. In addition, Black music history is another way to learn about the experience and the power it has on the lives of Black people. A free resource to listen to and gain this knowledge would be through the Black Music History Library created by Jenzia Burgos.
7. Be an Active Ally During Protests and Petitions for Racial/Social Justice Issues
Questions around how non-black people can be an ally to Black people and movements that supports much needed changes within predominantly black communities have been a hot topic among activists. These questions have been especially posed during a time where a push criminal justice reform and other social issues are happening. CNBC published a story on ‘5 ways to start being a better ally for your black coworkers’ in June 2020. In this article, you can find a few tips on how to best show up for your fellow colleagues and black people in general.
ICOY Staff Contributions
Written by ICOY Assistant Executive Director Sarah Daniels. Editing contributions by Communications & Marketing Manager Melissa Franada. Find more information on the ICOY Staff.