I’ve never been a fervent advocate for designated celebration days or months. Our history, struggles, and achievements extend far beyond the confines of a calendar. But I’ve come to understand the value of such occasions as a means of sparking meaningful change and addressing the pressing issues that persist. Yet, every year, when Black History Month arrives, I can’t help but wonder:
Will we truly be seen this year? Are our voices finally being heard? Will we receive the recognition and celebration we deserve? Can we move beyond mere tokenism? Who will stand as true allies in our collective journey?
Like clockwork, we witness the same cycle, the same insufficient efforts, and the same recycled excuses. It leaves me asking, “What more can be done for more meaningful change to happen?”
Growing up, my grandparents imparted a valuable lesson, urging us to maintain ‘ubuntu’, the concept that a person is a person through other people.
The African proverb, “Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu,” which translates to “a person is a person through people”, encapsulates the essence of humanity, reminding us of our interconnectedness and the shared responsibility we bear to repair and restore our collective humanity.
My frustrations with Black History Month stem from the fact that discussions about race and the issues of racism are often avoided. The unwillingness to engage in discussions and actions about race and racism perpetuates the issues we face. People hide behind the broader umbrella of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to justify their silence, ignoring the specific challenges faced by the black community. This year, I observed more acknowledgment and celebration of Menopause Day, Coming Out Day, and Mental Health Day than Black History Month. These important days had a wider reach and more social media posts than our celebration. (Make it make sense)
It’s disheartening that some reputable companies did nothing, while others limited their engagement to a single day of celebrating African and Caribbean cuisine or hosting brief talks. Black History Month is not a one-day affair; it’s an entire month dedicated to recognizing the contributions and struggles of Black individuals.
Mental health, although crucial, received more consistent acknowledgment and support. Meanwhile, Black women, who statistically receive the least support, recognition and celebration, couldn’t even secure a solid month of acknowledgment. (31 days out of 365). As Black women, we carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We navigate a society that expects us to be strong yet not too strong (it may scare some folks). We are expected to be independent and resourceful, as there is insufficient investment in us, resulting in over a 90% wealth gap. Resilience is a must, even when it’s an unbearable burden (or we risk being deemed unworthy of a seat at the table).
The world’s expectation is that we handle pressure with grace, or we risk being labelled as aggressive and angry. We’re constantly proving ourselves, and yet we’re still asking for acknowledgment and acceptance. Its discombobulating! What must be done to receive the recognition we deserve, both as Black women and as a Black community?
Let’s do better – for each other
It’s time to do better, not just for ourselves but for each other. I’ve reflected on my role in Black History and our collective future, realizing there’s always more we can do. I pledge to speak up, act, and make a difference because it’s not about politics; it’s about humanity.
In a world that sometimes seems to devalue humanity, we must respond with empathy and compassion. Let go of the cold, calculated detachment when it comes to race and gender. We’re living in a divided world where some assert that certain lives matter more than others. It’s a shame that we’ve reached this point, but it’s also an opportunity to right centuries of wrongs.
We must wage a war on racism, sexism, and the disparities caused by centuries of oppression. It’s time to talk authentically about how we can do better and, most importantly, to act consistently and continuously. Reparations are due!
To my brothers and sisters, let’s stand together solidly. History has shown that we are stronger when united, and we’ve overcome countless obstacles by supporting each other. It’s time to rekindle the sense of ubuntu – because together, we go further!
As Black History Month concludes, let’s take the lessons of this month and use them to fuel our commitment to justice, equality, and recognition. What more are we doing for Black women, Black people, and all marginalized communities? Let’s answer this question with action, unity, and empathy, for our collective humanity depends on it.
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