I’m Black Every Month
I struggle with Black History Month. For 28 days people and organizations honor the contributions of African-Americans to the US culture. Several prominent black figures are mentioned: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcom X, Marcus Garvey, Sojourner Truth, Mahalia Jackson, Ida B. Wells, Black Panthers, Claudette Colvin and many more. Musical contributors, Theater, Arts, Science, Education, Politics - and of course my forever first lady and President, Michelle and Barack Obama.
It’s also an opportunity to celebrate local contributions. Black culture is everywhere. Our community leaders, teachers, small business owners, executives; all contribute to the fabric of the US culture and existence. Schools create opportunities for young people to discuss Black culture. Well at least they did before the narrative that critical race theory - CRT - is taught in K-12. I won’t go there today…but you can learn more on your own. (I encourage you to do so).
All of these contributions should be celebrated, and I’m glad that they are.
But what happens on March 1st? The personal tributes, organizational highlights, even personal social media posts, all but disappear. Why is that? Are there no contributions outside of February? How does one select the honors to begin with? Is there a committee that sits in a room to determine what’s good enough to be celebrated? In 2022 we had a memorable start to the month. HBCUs (Historical Black Colleges and Universities) received bomb threats.
What. A. Sad. State. Of. Affairs. We. Are. In.
I was so angered and hurt by this happening. As a mother of a college student, I was scared for our young people. As a DEI practitioner, advocate, and system change advocate, I felt let down by the systems supporting our country. As a Black Woman, I felt a sense of “will it ever stop” (there’s a word for this I know). You don’t have to have these specific lenses of identity to feel the frustration of knowing that this country is still significantly divided by race and systemic issues of race.
The continuous feeling of battle, fight - with and without hope - having to justify each and every single move towards greatness. I struggle with the focus of just one month. My values and belief system don’t allow for just one month of recognizing the system of oppression and perfectionism of US culture. I need more than one month to explain why black bodies are constantly in crisis due to the health care system, justice system and education system. Over the past few days I was catching up on the news and social media. I literally felt an overwhelming sense of loss, frustration and lack of acceptance for my culture, my people. I could only take so much in because of the stories reported.
And for those that are wondering, it’s not always about the bad news. We need to celebrate the good too. I did a series of celebrating multicultural young people on my LinkedIn profile. It’s my contribution to the discussion. These are the young people we need to be honoring every single day.
So, yes, I continue to struggle with Black History Month. Everyday, the US culture needs to be reminded of how magnificent our contributions were and ARE to the US. It’s important for all communities to be reminded so it’s top of mind every day because I’m Black. Every. Month.