One of the most powerful and important parts of February is recognizing Black History Month. While Black history deserves to be celebrated every day, Black History Month focuses on recognizing the African-American men and women who have had great influence on the United States. The extreme highs and lows of the past few years mean it’s more important than ever to support the Black community. Though we have recently sworn in the first-ever Black woman vice president, the protests against continued police brutality in the Black community tell us we have a long way to go. We need to acknowledge and appreciate Black beauty and the incredible fortitude of African-Americans. It’s the perfect time to learn more about the Black community and support Black movements, activists, artists, businesses, and educators.
What Is Black History Month?
In the United States, February is a time to honor Black history through Black History Month. Communities come together to celebrate the achievements of Black people and their history in workplaces, schools, and the media. Nowadays, other countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Ireland also recognize BHM. Black History Month helps honor Black people who’ve made incredible contributions throughout US history — from the first people brought over from Africa and enslaved in America to Black people living in the United States today.
There have been many Black people who have made significant contributions throughout US history — consider Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, and Mae Jemison, to name a few. Black people continue to shape the history of the US to this day. For example, Barack Obama became the first African-American president in the United States, and on January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President. She is not only the highest-ranking female official in US history but the first Black woman to occupy that office. Now is a time to continue honoring Black people regardless of their status. It’s not a one-day or one-month affair but something worth celebrating every day.
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Black Lives Matter: Promoting Racial Equality
We can’t talk about Black History Month without talking about the Black Lives Matter movement. BLM started in response to the continued police brutality against African-Americans. It also sheds light on the perceived societal indifference to victims of police violence. It’s why movements like Black Lives Matter have gained so much traction.
Law enforcement is not easy, but there are many police officers like Jeffrey Staggers who go to work every day and do the right thing. Despite all the progress we’ve made, racism is still a massive problem in the United States. Black Lives Matter is about finding opportunities to heal as a nation.
Black History Month Activities: How Can You Support the Black Community?
For Black families who continue to face structural racism, every day is Black History Month. This year, make a point of celebrating Black History Month. Here are several ways to support the Black community now and all year long.
Support Black-Owned Businesses
Forty-one percent of Black-owned businesses closed down between February and April 2020. In contrast, the number of white business owners fell by seventeen percent. Buying from Black-owned companies is a great way of celebrating and honoring those who’ve fought and continue to fight for our rights.
If you’re not sure where to start, the online marketplace miiriya is a platform that showcases Black-owned businesses. You can find companies from various categories like fashion, art, decor, and beauty.
Contribute to Black Nonprofits
There are so many organizations and charities that support anti-racism and equality, and all of these organizations rely on donors to continue championing justice for the Black community. They include movements like Black Lives Matter, NAACP, Black Youth Project, Reclaim the Block, and Act Blue. Consider contributing to one of these charities. Your contribution, no matter how small, will go a long way.
You can find a list of Black-founded nonprofits on the Charity Navigator, which aims to raise awareness and funds for Black-founded nonprofits.
Recognize Black Artists
This Black History Month, make a point of recognizing Black artists and buying their work — from music and art to iconic Black history movies. Google’s Black History and Culture page explores the history, art, and culture of Black people in the United States. While you’re at it, add Black authors to your weekly or monthly reading lists. Recognizing Black artists will go a long way in supporting the Black community. It’s also a good way of understanding their fight for equality.
Have More Conversations About Difficult Topics
So many people are scared to share opinions on controversial issues like racism. You can learn how to address these difficult conversations. Start by having a conversation about people or events that most people know a little about. This can open up a dialogue and encourage curiosity. The conversations you have during Black history month around race and equality will last well beyond the month.
Take your time and listen to the Black community. Listen to their stories, listen to their anger and their pain. Try to understand why they are angry and protesting. Educate yourself about white privilege, and take the time to understand what it means to be Black in America versus being white in America. By learning about Black history and current events, you can find a lot of ways to support the Black community.
Black History Month: It’s Never Too Late
Black History Month should be a time of reflection. It’s a space to honor the incredible contributions of the Black community throughout history, from political leaders to artists and inventors. Think about what you can do to make the world safer and how your actions impact your community. Support your local Black-owned businesses and educate yourself about Black history. While February is a time to celebrate Black History Month and honor Black history and pride, you can support the Black community throughout the whole year. Do your part to make the world a little safer for Black communities everywhere.
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